Home Alone: Taking Back the House

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Home Alone: Taking Back the House
Home Alone 4.jpg
This isn't the Kevin McCallister
you once knew and loved.
Genre: Comedy
Family
Holiday
Directed By: Rod Daniel
Produced By: Mitch Engel
Written By: Debra Frank
Steve L. Hayes
Starring: Mike Weinberg
French Stewart
Missi Pyle
Jason Beghe
Erick Avari
Barbara Babcock
Joanna Going
Clare Carey
Cinematography: Peter Benison
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 3, 2002
Runtime: 89 minutes
Country: United States
South Africa (film production)
Language: English
Franchise: Home Alone
Prequel: Home Alone 3
Sequel: Home Alone: The Holiday Heist


Home Alone: Taking Back the House (also known as Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House or Home Alone 4) is a 2002 American made-for-television Christmas family comedy film co-written by Steve L. Hayes and Debra Frank, the fourth film in the Home Alone series, 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.

Plot

Kevin McCallister is upset that his parents got divorced. Worse yet, things are heating up between his father, Peter and his love interest, Natalie. Forced to choose where to celebrate Christmas, Kevin begrudgingly decides to go to Natalie's mansion, where the guests include a foreign royal family. Kevin schemes to reunite his estranged parents and, after Marv Merchants reappears, he struggles to protect a prince from abduction.

Why It Could Not Take Back The House

  1. The first thing to note of the many mistakes that resulted in this film's weak performance is that it has a very poor connection and poor continuity to the first two films, which only create a slew of holes in its timeline.
    • The McCallisters are portrayed as a rich 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. Uncle Frank, Aunt Leslie, their siblings, and all of Kevin's cousins are not 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 states that he's 10 years old (even though he should be 9 years old). But in this film, he's 9 years old. In fact, he looks much younger than his counterpart in the first two films.
    • Marv looks and acts more like Harry, despite Harry being mentioned.
    • Kevin knows the name of Marv and vice versa. It's unknown if Kevin also remembers Harry.
  2. 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.
  3. The characters have been flanderized in this movie after the first two films:
    • Kevin went from a charming and entertaining protagonist to a complete punching bag, who would get bullied a lot by Buzz and Megan, as well as being less funny than in the first two films. He would also never tell his parents once about the burglars in the said films, though in this film, he tells his father about Marv and Vera. However, Kevin was the least flanderized of all of the flanderized characters in this film, as the other characters here have dealt with worse flanderizations.
    • Kate is a lot more neglectful towards Kevin than she was in the first two films, as she shows no sympathy for the way Buzz and Megan treat him, 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.
    • Buzz went from a mean older brother, but with a well-done personality, to a one-dimensional jerk to Kevin, where how mean he was to Kevin was completely exaggerated compared to the first two films and is basically very mean to Kevin for no reason at all. The same can be said towards Megan (though in the first two movies, Megan is nicer to Kevin unlike in this movie). If Jeff and Linnie appeared in this film, the same could've probably been said about them as well.
    • Peter went from a kind and selfless man to someone who would reject his entire family over a rich girl, as well as not believing in Kevin when he tells him about the burglars, though he did apologize to Kevin for not believing him. And also, how he left Natalie in tears in the ending was kind of mean-spirited.
    • Marv is much less dim-witted in this film than in the first two films but has less personality than in the said films. He also looks and acts more and even dresses like his original partner Harry in this film, rather than acting like his dim-witted self in the first two films, to the point where the viewers could easily confuse Marv as Harry in this film.
  4. The traps are boring, stupid, unoriginal, and lazily made, because most of them are built into the mansion, and the other traps that Kevin actually builds are improvised.
  5. Despite the film taking place in Chicago, palm trees are visible in the film, not helping that the film was actually shot in South Africa.
  6. The story takes place during Christmas, yet there are still plenty of leaves on all of the trees. Going back to WICNTBTH #5, Christmas in Chicago takes place in winter, as it is located in the Northern Hemisphere; while Christmas in South Africa takes place in summer, as it is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which as a result, this film doesn't even feel like it takes place in Christmas.
  7. Plot Hole: 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 actually put an end to Marv's plans much sooner. Although, this could mean that this film would probably not exist because then the conflict would be resolved too quickly and there wouldn't be any more story to tell.
  8. Misleading Title: Despite the movie titled: "Home Alone", Kevin is not home when the burglars break in and he is never left alone at any point, since either Prescott or Molly is in the mansion with him at all times, now THAT'S overprotection! "Taking Back the House" is also misleading because Kevin technically "takes back" a mansion.
  9. There are some scenes in the movie that aren't really fitting for a family movie; for example, one trap revolves around Kevin flying a remote-controlled plane into Marv's crotch and there is even a scene where Kevin gets naked to have a shower (thankfully, in some regions, he's wearing underwear).
  10. False advertising: This movie said that Kevin and the rest of the McCallisters are returning from the first two films, when Jeff and Linnie haven't returned, despite saying that the rest of the McCallisters would return. Uncle Frank, Aunt Leslie, and the cousins also haven't returned in this film.
  11. Because the actors in this movie look nothing like their original counterparts, especially Marv and Buzz, it doesn't actually feel like Home Alone anymore. Instead, it feels more like a pilot episode for a television series, which it practically was.
  12. Half-Bad Ending: As said in WICNTBTH #3, Peter leaving Natalie in tears at the end seemed a little mean-spirited considering that Natalie seemed to genuinely love him despite being middle class and simply didn't want her Christmas ruined (though it can be understandable to Peter due to Natalie disliking kids).
  13. Judging by all of the pointers above, the film has a very cheap and low-budget look to it.
  14. If there were showers flooding the mansion, then how were there no drains?
  15. The technology is futuristic for the features of the smart house, especially in 2002. Another nonsensical thing is that Kevin could control the weather, particularly the snowfall, in this movie.
  16. The sound effects don't make sense. For example, when Kevin makes a lever out of a table with pots, a stock sound of a single-engine plane is heard as the pots are launched into the air, before landing on Marv and Vera's heads.
  17. Kevin's laugh is annoying to the point where he sounds like a Tickle Me Elmo.
  18. Molly takes the elevator while chasing Kevin, who is right in front of her, when in fact, she should have chased him up the stairs. This shows the laziness of the characters in this movie.
  19. Terrible physics: For example, when Marv and Vera are spinning very fast on the rotating bookshelf, nothing falls off. When it stops spinning, Marv and Vera are somehow launched into the air and land on a chandelier.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Unlike Home Alone 3 and The Holiday Heist, it at least has returning characters from the first two movies, despite being very poorly played by different actors/actresses. And at least they brought back Kevin.
  2. There are several scenes in the film that are, in some ways, pretty amusing (e.g., when Kevin makes recordings of Marv's backtalking and makes the recordings sound like he's insulting Vera).
  3. Interesting plot twist with Molly actually being Marv's mother and the real mastermind behind the plot to kidnap the royal family.
  4. Half-Good Ending: Peter apologizes to Kevin for not believing him and Peter and Kate get back together after Peter breaks up with Natalie, leaving her in tears.
  5. Prescott is a likable character, especially after he is revealed to be a good guy.
    • Kevin is still a likable character (and possibly the most likable in this film), despite being a bit annoying.
  6. Natalie’s house is very nice and the fact the remote control keys can control everything is pretty cool.

Reception

Home Alone: Taking Back the House generally received overwhelmingly negative reviews from both fans of the first two films and critics, despite Kevin McCallister being the main character. However, his story is very different from what the previous films established. This film is not only considered the worst Home Alone film ever made but is often considered to be one of the worst TV and Christmas films ever made and holds a 2.9/10 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%. In addition, the film received a 1/5 on Common Sense Media, making it by far the lowest ranked Home Alone movie on the website (as of 2021), and has received a 49% on Google, making it the second lowest rated film on the website (after Home Sweet Home Alone, which received a 40%).

Trivia

  • It was the final film that Rod Daniel (who directed the first Teen Wolf) ever directed, before his retirement and subsequent death in April 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.

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