The plot is familiar — a young boy, left by himself for Christmas, is forced to defend his home against burglars using a series of elaborate homemade booby traps — but the execution of this update on the 1990 smash is fresh, and its hearty laughs make it a welcome holiday treat.
“Jojo Rabbit’s” Archie Yates is Max Mercer, the Kevin McCallister of this tale, left alone when his family heads off to Tokyo for the holidays. How are parents still leaving their children behind when traveling internationally at Christmastime? Eh, it’s best to not get tripped up in the details.
Max gets to live out his fantasies in his family’s handsome suburban Chicago home, dressing up like “Scarface’s” Tony Montana and burying his head in a mountain of M&M’s. But his solo bliss is interrupted by Jeff and Pam McKenzie (Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper), who are trying to retrieve a valuable doll they believe Max stole from their home.
Seems like a simple misunderstanding that can be easily ironed out between two reasonable parties. Instead, the McKenzies go the robber route and Max rigs up a series of violent contraptions, firing billiards balls at Jeff’s head at close range and sending the couple through a series of backbreaking death traps.
A little bit of the Looney Tunes-style violence goes a long way. But the script by “SNL” vets Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell is consistently funny without the painful pratfalls, and Delaney and Kemper (along with Kenan Thompson, “Veep’s” Tim Simons and Devin Ratray, Buzz from the original “Home Alone,” reprising his role) keep the laughs clipping at a steady pace.
There are callbacks to the original “Home Alone” — fun fact: this is the sixth entry in the “Home Alone” franchise — and jokes about how remakes are never as good as the original. Which is true, and holds true here. But “Home Sweet Home Alone” holds its own, a new spin on an old tale that keeps the spirit of the original alive.
‘HOME SWEET HOME ALONE’
MPAA rating: PG (for slapstick violence, rude material and some language)
Running time: 1:34
Where to watch: Streaming Friday on Disney+