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As Home Alone 3 vigorously demonstrates, the franchise needs to keep going with a charismatic child with no great acting skills but loads of pseudo-innocent chubby-cheeked adorability, and that the point we have Alex D. Linz has replaced Mr. Culkin.
Putting sophisticated remote-control gadgetry at the boy’s fingertips and makes grown-ups look like fools, that’s your refreshed formula for at least one more episode. Providing crucial continuity is John Hughes, who masterminded the first two Home Alones and is co-producer and writer for Home Alone 3
Home Alone 3 is essentially a good-natured repeat of the blockbuster origin, but with a different all-American family in an upscale Chicago suburb.
8-year-old Alex Pruitt, the youngest of the three Pruitt children, is a mechanical whiz of infinite resourcefulness and indefatigable self-confidence. While his family is out of the house, Alex fortifies the place with so many potentially lethal booby traps that any intruder force his way in will find himself plunged into a zany chamber of horrors. Even the family pets, a white mouse named Doris and a loudmouthed parrot that can light matches, get into the act.
The invaders this time are four bumbling international gangsters who have got their hands on an Air Force computer chip that makes missiles undetectable and are planning to sell it to North Korean terrorists. However, due to a baggage mix-up at the San Francisco airport, the chip, which has been hidden in a toy car, ends up winging its way to Chicago and into Alex’s bedroom.
Descending upon the community, wearing silly disguises and armed with enough surveillance and safe-cracking equipment, the bad guys are unable to determine exactly where the toy landed and resort to systematically burglarizing the homes in Alex’s neighborhood to find it. Scanning the area with his telescope while his parents are out, the boy, who is home with the chicken pox, twice observes a burglary in progress and reports it to the police. Both times, the criminals escape before the police arrive, and Alex is lectured about turning in false alarms. Adult disbelief makes him want catch the culprits and clear his good name.
In the movie, the cleverest sequence is the scene that Alex equips the toy car with a video camera and sends it bouncing across the street into a neighbor’s house to photograph the criminals. In the funny extended chase sequence that ensues, the adroitly deployed vehicle tricks the gangsters into doing one uproarious pratfall after another, as they try to retrieve the apparently indestructible toy, which has the miraculous ability to leap over high fences. In the original Home Alone, the combat turns more brutal once the criminals enter the Pruitt home and find themselves besieged by an astounding array of mechanical contraptions, several of them built like fancy slingshots.
The difference between Home Alone 3 and its predecessors is largely a matter of tone. Where Culkin seemed to take a sadistic, poker-face, Linz expresses the more innocent delight of a child caught up in an action-packed Saturday morning cartoon.
The movie exploits the generation gap in technological know-how between whiz kids and their parents. In making Alex such a mechanical marvel, the movie strokes children’s fantasies of remote-control omnipotence while reassuring working parents that their children, equipped with the latest in telecommunications gadgetry, will be resourceful enough to amuse themselves and, if necessary, ward off danger when they are not around.
Home Alone 3 is rated PG since the punishments meted out to the villains are funny, but many of them are also cruel.
HOME ALONE 3
- Directed by Raja Gosnell
- Written by John Hughes
- Director of photography: Julio Macat
- Edited by Bruce Green, Malcolm Campbell and David Rennie
- Music by Nick Glennie-Smith
- Production designer: Henry Bumstead
- Produced by John Hughes and Hilton Green
- Released by 20th Century Fox.
- Running time: 97 minutes.
- PG Rated
- With present of Alex D. Linz as Alex, Olek Krupa as Beaupre, Rya Kihlstedt as Alice, Lenny Von Dohlen as Jernigan and David Thornton as Unger.