There comes a time when every studio with a multi-film franchise must realize that the boat has sailed and it’s time to call it a day. If Peter Hewitt’s Home Alone: The Holiday Heist’s quality is any indication, this should be the swan song for this once entertaining but now rudimentary series. Everything about this latest comic farce is predictable and tired with its by-the-numbers stunts and infuriating adult characters who are no more realistic than the Cat in the Hat.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: French 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmray case
Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/29/2013
After uprooting her family from California to Maine and moving into a notorious house thought by everyone in the neighborhood as haunted, Catherine Baxter (Ellie Harvie) and her husband Curtis (Doug Murray) are invited to a Christmas party and leave their teenage daughter Alexis (Jodelle Ferland) to sit with ten-year old Finn (Christian Martyn). Finn is convinced people are trying to break into the house and he’s right: a trio of crooks led by the cultured Sinclair (Malcolm McDowell) and his stooges Jessica (Debi Mazar) and Hughes (Eddie Steeples) know a valuable painting is housed in a secret basement room in the house and are determined to retrieve it. Knowing the parents are away at a party gives the crooks all the incentive they need to try to breach the house, but Finn armed with a ball of twine and a mechanical mind dreams up numerous ways to keep them at bay.
The Production Rating: 2/5
Yes, the script by Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre trods again over oh-so-familiar territory with Finn’s innumerable Rube Goldberg-type gadgets to assault the easily duped crooks. They and director Peter Hewitt even stage another montage of the young Finn celebrating his freedom around the house complete with his shaving and slapping after shave lotion on his face (though thankfully we’re spared the overused hands-to-face scream that seems to have been worked into every other installment of the series; the parents mimic the move when they’re trying to refresh their kids’ memories of the famous Edvard Munch painting The Scream later in the movie). The house itself with its old bootleg hidden room could have been so much more interestingly used for something other that this tired formula farce stuff (it takes an hour for the bombardment to begin - a long wait for very little), and it’s hard to be forgiving when the adults in the cast grow increasingly and irritatingly irrational as the movie runs, all part of the sitcom-level plotting and execution that by now are tiresome and threadbare.
It’s sad to see an actor of Malcolm McDowell’s skill and intelligence saddled with such uninspired material and with two cohorts whose collected I.Q.’s wouldn’t reach into double digits. Doug Murray and Ellie Harvie are rather appealing parents in the early going, but the writers give them no help reducing Harvie especially to a screeching troll before the end of the film. Bill Turnbull has some fun scenes as a computer geek who assists Finn, and Peter DaCunha also has simple charm to spare as the neighbor boy who’s obsessed with snow. As for the two leading children, Christian Martyn is perfectly fine as Finn showing pluck and resolve after getting over his fear of the house being haunted. Jodelle Ferland has less to work with as the jaded teen daughter who thinks everything is lame, but she comes into her own late in the film in a face-off with the bad guys.
The made-for-TV film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is offered in an anamorphically enhanced transfer. Sharpness is excellent throughout, and color is likewise vivid and controlled with realistic and appealing skin tones. Black levels might have been a shade or two deeper, but contrast has been consistently applied to make for a most pleasing picture. Edge enhancement and other low bitrate artifacts were not glimpsed. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Like many comedies, the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix offers a dynamic spread across the front channels with very little going on in the rears apart from a vibrant use of the music score to fulfill its surround requirements. There is some spiffy directionalized dialogue across the front channels when Finn runs through the house and his voice travels with him across the fronts from left to right. Otherwise, dialogue has been masterfully recorded and placed in the center channel. But all of the ambient sounds of Christmas at the party and the sneaking around the outside of the house of the crooks could have been worked more into the sound design for a more interesting surround experience.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Promo Trailers: Free Birds, Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters, The Ultimate Life.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
The fifth time should be the last for the Home Alone series. The Holiday Heist repeats the tired, listless formula yet again, and no amount of charming performances, inventive stunt work, or holiday good will is going to pump life into this dying ember of a franchise.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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