Home Alone 3 fails to deliver an ounce of its predecessors' guilty pleasures, and it would be tempting to blame this outcome on the evacuation of all talent previously associated with the series. But that wouldn't be true, because John Hughes stuck around to produce and script this film, reprising his role from the first two. So it may be that Macaulay Culkin's cheek-slapping shriek was indeed key to earning the movies their hundreds of millions. Or it may just be that Hughes, long after his '80s heyday, has only enough left in the tank for tired retreads, like 101 Dalmatians (1996) and Flubber (1997). Whatever the case, Home Alone 3 is even more absurd than it is tired, and it's pretty tired. In his quest for ever-more-clever booby traps to ensnare the bad guys, Hughes has forgotten to make it marginally plausible that a young child running around in the snow for a half-hour could set them all up. The tangle of pulleys, trip wires, blunt objects, and blowtorches is as complicated as the age-inappropriate dialogue Hughes writes for young Alex D. Linz, who's not the most capable child actor to begin with. But the single most ridiculous element of Home Alone 3 is the radio-controlled car that's housing the purloined computer chip. Young Alex duct tapes a video camera, equipped with a live feed, to its chassis, then pilots it across the street, into a neighbor's house, through the legs of numerous foreign-accented crooks, over jumps, and upwards of a quarter mile away, all without losing either its radio signal or the camera. Clearly, checking realism at the door -- watch out for falling paint cans -- is a must. Checking your sense of joy shouldn't have to be.
by Derek Armstrong review