Home Alone 3

Reviewed by Dan Lybarger

December 9, 1997

For the abuse he inflicts on audiences with his latest movie, writer producer John Hughes deserves to suffer the same fate as the villains in the Home Alone series.

In Home Alone 3, Hughes recycles the slapstick of his earlier movies, but to considerably less effect. While he introduces a new cast of characters (Macaulay Culkin is too long in tooth to play a stranded waif, and Joe Pesci was too busy with such important fare as Gone Fishin' and Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag), the story is painfully redundant.

Little Alex Pruitt (Alex D. Linz) is stuck at home with the measles. His loneliness and boredom disappear when he discovers that a group of international smugglers (Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, David Thornton and Lenny von Dohlen) have moved into his neighborhood. The smugglers burglarize local houses looking for a microchip hidden in Alex's toy car (don't ask how it got there). Of course, the thieves find their way to Alex's house, and it takes no effort to guess what happens next.

Hughes has allegedly boasted that he can write a script over a weekend. Judging from the final product, it appears that he had enough time left over to take a canoeing trip on the weekend Home Alone 3 was written. The movie plays as if Hughes had composed the script on a word processor using the files he wrote for the first one. The only difference is he used a search and replace function to change the characters' names. Worse, the comic booby traps, which should be the highlight, aren't funny if you've seen the original. Hughes' uninspired dialogue (there's a parrot that insults people by calling them "monkey-butt") doesn't help.

Raja Gosnell's lifeless direction only deepens the malaise. The flat cinematography and the cheap look of the film in general make Home Alone 3 feel less like a movie and more like an insult. Hughes and his accomplices appear to think that people will flock to this movie even if it is fulsome and indifferently made. To be fair, the cast does try. Unfortunately, the new villains lack Pesci and Daniel Stern's flair for cartoonish pratfalls, so their struggles earn more yawns than laughs. In fact, because they look more human, Linz comes across as a sadistic little monster.

Hughes has some decent films to his name like Sixteen Candles and Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, but he should either get back to work or retire on the astronomical sums he's made from stale movies like Home Alone 3. Hughes has enough money; he doesn't need yours. (PG) Rating: 1


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Ó 1997 Dan Lybarger



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