Home Alone: Taking Back the House
Home Alone: Taking Back the House (also known as Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House or Home Alone 4) is a 2002 made-for-television Christmas family comedy film co-written by Steve L. Hayes and Debra Frank, and is the final film directed by Rod Daniel, with none of the first two films' cast being involved. The film premiered on ABC on November 3rd, 2002. It is the first installment to be released as a made-for-TV movie, instead of being theatrically released, and is also the first one not to be written or produced by John Hughes.
At the McCallisters' house, Peter is about to get divorced from Kate and announces that he's living with his rich new girlfriend Natalie at her mansion. He tells his three children Buzz, Megan, and Kevin that they're hosting the visit of a royal family and invites everyone to spend Christmas with him and Natalie. After initially refusing, Kevin takes his father up on his offer after being tormented by Buzz.
Kevin enjoys his time at Natalie's mansion with his new bedroom, high-tech gadgets, and his life. The next morning, Natalie and Peter go out for a bit while Kevin stays at the mansion with Natalie's butler Mr. Prescott and maid Molly. While Mr. Prescott makes Kevin a milkshake, he tries to sneak into the security room but ends up getting caught by Mr. Prescott, who gives Kevin a telling-off. With Natalie and Peter still away, Kevin notices his old nemesis Marv Merchants, a former member of the Wet Bandits, and his new sidekick and wife Vera outside the house. Kevin tries to get Mr. Prescott to answer the intercom, but unfortunately, it doesn't work because Marv has altered the security system. He then spies on them and drives them away by flooding the house, but Peter and Natalie arrive while Kevin is cleaning up and don't believe Kevin's explanation, especially since Mr. Prescott claims to have seen nothing. Kevin then attempts to use the security camera footage to prove himself but discovers that the camera had been turned off and is caught by Mr. Prescott, who Kevin now believes to be Marv and Vera's mole. Molly then appears and gets Kevin out of trouble. Peter and Natalie then realize they've given Kevin a hard time and decide to make him feel better, so the three of them decide to decorate the tree.
The next morning, Peter and Kevin wake up and realize their tree was re-decorated because of Natalie. Kate, Buzz, and Megan then decide to visit Kevin. Kate meets Natalie in person, and Kevin shows the entire house to Buzz and Megan. At a party for the royal family, while Peter and Natalie have gone to pick them up, Kevin notices Marv and Vera dressed up as waiters. Mr. Prescott warns Kevin about the night, so he then tricks Mr. Prescott into going into the freezer room before locking him in. Kevin then spies on Marv and Vera in his bedroom and hears them planning about kidnapping the royals. Unfortunately for them, Kevin makes sure that their plan is a failure and has them fall out and break the window. The royal family is unable to attend the party because their flight was canceled, so Peter and Natalie instead announce their engagement to the party guests instead. Marv and Vera run back into the house and Kevin hits Marv with a frying pan, flips the table, and gets soup spilled on Marv and Vera. They then chase Kevin, causing him to accidentally ruin the party. Peter is angered at this event, still refusing to believe Kevin about the break-in and instead believes that Kevin is trying to sabotage his relationship with Natalie.
Since no-one believes him about the heist, Kevin decides to take matters into his own hands, and sets booby traps for Marv and Vera. The next morning, Peter and Natalie go to pick up the royals and Kevin is left alone in the house. Marv and Vera wake up and head to the house. Kevin tricks and locks Mr. Prescott in the basement, but eventually discovers Marv and Vera's real mole is actually Molly, who also turns out to be Marv's mother as well. Kevin gets locked in the basement with Mr. Prescott. After apologizing to Mr. Prescott for misjudging him (and vice versa), Kevin manages to escape through the dumbwaiter. He then traps Marv under the dumbwaiter and unleashes his traps on Marv and Vera. Molly attempts to stop Kevin, but he manages to trap her in the elevator and runs to his bedroom. At the airport, Peter gets worried about Kevin and goes back to Natalie's to check on him. Back in the basement, Mr. Prescott then manages to escape through the dumbwaiter and goes to see if Kevin is alright. Just on the road, Kate, Buzz, and Megan are on their way to save Kevin as well. Marv heads to the bedroom and ends up getting caught and stuck under the bookshelf. Kevin then plays a recording of Marv, making it sound like he's insulting Vera, which causes her to start arguing with him. Marv then gets hit by Kevin's electric aircraft making him fall and tumble down the stairs. Marv and Vera are then tricked by Kevin with a secret wall switch, end up swinging from a chandelier, and they fall and are knocked unconscious. Molly, having escaped from the elevator, grabs Kevin, but Mr. Prescott knocks her out with a serving tray. Then he and Kevin call the police.
As Peter, Kate, Buzz, and Megan arrive, Kevin, with Buzz and Megan's help, chases Marv and Vera out of the house and trips them up. The royal family and Natalie arrive, and Natalie is confused when she sees Molly getting arrested. An FBI agent reveals that Molly was actually the mastermind behind the whole plot to kidnap the royal family, with Marv and Vera as her lackeys. Everyone has a good Christmas as Peter breaks up with Natalie, Mr. Prescott resigns, the royals spend Christmas with the McCallisters, and it is a merry Christmas for everyone, except for Natalie, Marv, Vera, and Molly.
Why It Sucks
- Has a very poor connection to the first two films that only creates a slew of holes in its timeline.
- The McCallisters are portrayed as a normal suburban family in the first two films, but in this film, they are a nearly divorced family (granted, Peter and Kate do get back together in the end, but still).
- In the first two films, Kevin has four siblings: Buzz, Jeff, Megan, and Linnie. But in this film, Kevin has only Buzz and Megan as siblings, while Jeff and Linnie are nowhere to be found. In addition, Uncle Frank, Aunt Leslie, and all of Kevin's cousins aren't seen or mentioned either.
- In the first film, Kevin is 8 years old and in the second, which takes place a year after the first one, he's 10 years old. But in this film, he's 9 years old. In fact, he even looks younger than in the first two films.
- Marv looks more like Harry, despite Harry being mentioned.
- The film rehashes the same "kid sees the bad guys that the adults can't see" plot from the first two films and does absolutely nothing new with it.
- Kevin's mom is a lot more neglectful towards Kevin than in the first two films, as she shows no sympathy for the way Buzz and Megan treat Kevin, and she doesn't punish them for being mean to Kevin. In fact, when Kevin complains about the way they treat him, she responds by saying "It's tough being the youngest". Talk about poor parenting.
- The traps are boring, stupid and lazily-made, because two of them are built into the house, and the other trap that Kevin actually builds is just Kevin spilling soup on Marv and Vera.
- Despite the film taking place in Chicago, palm trees are visible in the film, which makes no sense. Actually, this installment was shot in South Africa.
- The story takes place during Christmas, yet there are still plenty of leaves on all of the trees. Speaking of WIS #5, Christmas in Chicago takes place in winter, while in South Africa it's in summer.
- Kevin actually records Marv confessing to his plot halfway through the film, but never actually thinks of playing the recording back to his dad or Natalie, which could have put an end to Marv's plans much sooner.
- Despite the film's title, Kevin is never actually left home alone at any point, since either Prescott or Molly is in the house with him at all times, now THAT'S overprotection!
- There are some scenes in the movie that aren't really fitting for a family movie; for example, one trap revolves around Kevin throwing a plastic airplane at Marv's crotch, and even a scene where Kevin gets naked to have a shower (thankfully, in some regions, he's wearing underwear).
- Buzz and Megan are very mean to Kevin in this film.
- The actors in this movie look nothing like their original counterparts, especially Marv and Buzz.
- The movie itself feels more like a pilot episode for a television series than an actual movie.
- The film has a very cheap look to it.
- Unlike Home Alone 3 and The Holiday Heist, it at least has returning characters from the first two movies, despite being poorly played by different actors.
- Also, unlike the third movie, this one is at least connected to Christmas.
- There are several scenes in the film that are, in some ways, pretty amusing (e.g. when Kevin makes recordings of Marv's back-talking and makes the recordings sound like he's insulting Vera).
- Interesting plot twist with Molly actually being Marv's mother and the real mastermind behind the plot to kidnap the royal family.
- The ending is a bit heartwarming (Peter apologizes to Kevin for not believing him and Peter and Kate getting back together after Peter breaks up with Natalie).
- Prescott is a likable character, especially after he's revealed to be a good guy.
The film was infamous for its overwhelmingly negative reception from both fans of the first two films and critics, despite being set back to Kevin McCallister. However, his story is very different from what the previous films established. This film is often considered to be one of the worst TV films ever made, and holds a 2.4/10 rating on IMDb (though there isn't a score or critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes). As of August 2019, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is still 24%.
- It was the final film that Rod Daniel (who directed the first Teen Wolf) ever directed, before his retirement and subsequent death in 2016.
- Harry, Marv's original partner-in-crime, is mentioned in a nod to the first two films.
- Daniel Stern was approached to reprise his role as Marv, but quickly declined, calling the movie "an insult" and "total garbage".
- Joe Pesci wasn't offered to reprise his role as Harry. Instead, Harry's name was only briefly mentioned.
- The producers had hoped that this movie would lead to a Home Alone television series, and several of the main cast members had clauses in their contracts that would have brought them back for such a series. This movie failed to perform up to expectations in the ratings, though, and the series never went ahead.
- Originally, this film was going to be a sequel to Home Alone 3, but the idea was scrapped and rewritten as another film in the franchise that revolves around Kevin McCallister once more, even though he is played by a different actor.
- In the original ending, Kevin's parents did not get back together. His father stayed with Natalie, and his mother started dating a police officer, who turned out to be Marv's younger, more honest brother. This was changed when the producers decided they wanted the film to set up a television series, and so Kevin's parents did get back together at the end, while the police officer idea was deleted altogether from the script.
- This was the first Home Alone movie not to have a theatrical release and was instead made for television.