Scary or Not Scary? A Parent’s Review of ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’

home sweet home alone movie review

Best for ages 8 and up

*Warning: Minor spoilers ahead*

The highly-anticipated reboot of the beloved holiday film franchise is available to stream on Disney+, but is it worth queuing up for your next family movie night? And while the original Home Alone is a Christmas classic (and was one of our childhood favorites), much of the slapstick violence seems, well, horrifying to us as parents now... does this latest iteration feature much of the same (i.e., should you let your 5-year-old watch it)? Find out everything you need to know in our Home Sweet Home Alone movie review. 

The plot

Max Mercer (Archie Yates) is a resourceful young boy who is accidentally left behind when his family goes to Tokyo for the holidays. Parents Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff (Rob Delaney) McKenzie are relunctantly selling their family home after Jeff loses his job when they discover a family heirloom that could save their house... if only they can retrieve the stolen object from Max, who they believe swiped it. Max, however, believes the McKenzies are out to get him and goes to great lengths to protect his house and himself from the trespassers. Chaos, hijinks and multiple booby traps ensue.  

The scary parts

For most kids, the idea of being left home alone without any grown-ups seems like a dream come true (and Max does have a lot of fun playing video games, eating ice cream for dinner and reading his sibling’s diary). But for others, the idea of being abandoned by your parents could be a lot more upsetting. But beyond that, there’s not a whole lot to fear here. While the original Home Alone movies featured genuine villains (pretty scary ones, at that), the baddies here are actually, well, not so bad. Instead of home burglars and escaped convicts, Pam and Jeff are just two desperate parents trying to save their home and do what’s best for their family. (In fact, in some ways they’re more likable than Max who at one point tries to steal from a toy donation table and does indeed steal an item from the McKenzie home.) There aren’t any shut-your-eyes moments here, although parents may well want to pass on Home Sweet Home Alone for other reasons (namely, a good deal of violence and a lack of holiday cheer—more on that below).   

Positive messages

The moral of the story here is sweet and very neatly summed up at the end (“maybe home is just another word for family”), although attempts to diminish the importance of material goods doesn’t quite hold up as the family cheers when the house gets saved and also rushes to open their presents on Christmas morning. But unlike in the original film, the characters' motivations—both Max and the McKenzies—are entirely wholesome and completely understandable, a fact that will have viewers rooting for both parties. Another welcome difference from the original film is that there is more diversity in Home Sweet Home Alone, and even one scene where Max tries on a dress.  

What else parents should know

The biggest concern parents should have while watching Home Sweet Home Alone is the comic violence, although it’s worth nothing that the attacks here are not nearly as shocking as in the original flick. Wince-worthy moments include feet catching on fire, being shot in the head with a billiard ball, driving a car into a pole, sinking into a covered pool and being attacked by pushpin-bearing darts. The McKenzies suffer varies injuries as a result, including losing a tooth. There’s no sex or nudity to speak of, although there is some mild bad language (the worst offender is the word “bulls--t” that is left unfinished, plus a few other words including “crap,” “butt” and “idiot”). 

And is it worth the watch? 

Parents may be relieved that much of the shocking violence from the original film is missing from Home Sweet Home Alone, but sadly, so is a lot of what made the OG flick so enjoyable. While there are some laugh-out-loud moments in this latest iteration (the McKenzies attempting to scale a wall is particularly funny and an unfortunate fart will have kids in hysterics), there’s a lot left to be desired in terms of humor. But more disappointing is the lack of touching moments with very little warm and fuzzy holiday feels to speak of. The Macaulay Culkin films featured endearing subplots to counteract all the outlandish hijinks (like family reconciliation and the kindness of strangers), but Home Sweet Home Alone has little to offer beneath the surface. Having said that, young kids will likely find the booby trapping highly entertaining and there are happily a few jokes thrown in for the grown-ups in addition to a few sweet nods to the original (including an appearance by Buzz McCallister!). 

Run time: 93 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

PureWow Rating: 2.5 stars

While much of the charm (and violence) of the original film is missing here, kids will likely find the shenanigans highly entertaining. Parents probably won’t want to add Home Sweet Home to their annual holiday movie night, but for families with kids ages 8 and up it’s a perfectly enjoyable way to pass an evening. 

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...