Home Alone 4 (also known as Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House) is a 2002 made-for-television Christmas family comedy film co-written by Steve L. Hayes and Debra Frank, and is the final film directed by Rod Daniel, with none of the first two films' cast being involved. The film premiered on ABC on November 3rd, 2002.
The film is infamous for its overwhelmingly negative reception from both fans of the first two films and critics, despite being set back to Kevin McCallister. However, his story is very different from what the previous films established. This film is often considered to be one of the worst TV films ever made, and holds a 2.5 rating on IMDb (though there isn't a score or critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes). As of right now, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is 24%.
At the McCallisters' house, Peter is about to get divorced from Kate and announces that he's living with his rich new girlfriend Natalie at her mansion. He tells his three children Buzz, Megan and Kevin that they're hosting the visit of a royal family and invites everyone to spend Christmas with him and Natalie. After initially refusing, Kevin takes his father up on his offer after being tormented by Buzz.
Kevin enjoys his time at Natalie's mansion with his new bedroom, high-tech gadgets, and his life. In the next morning, Natalie and Peter go out for a bit while Kevin stays at the mansion with Natalie's butler Mr. Prescott and maid Molly. While Mr. Prescott makes Kevin a milkshake, he tries to sneak into the security room but ends up getting caught by Mr. Prescott, who gives Kevin a telling-off. With Natalie and Peter still away, Kevin notices his old nemesis Marv Merchants, a former member of the Wet Bandits, and his new sidekick and wife Vera outside the house. Kevin tries to get Mr. Prescott to answer the intercom, but unfortunately it doesn't work because Marv has altered the security system. He then spies on them and drive them away by flooding the house, but Peter and Natalie arrive while Kevin is cleaning up and don't believe Kevin's explanation, especially since Mr. Prescott claims to have seen nothing. Kevin then attempts to use the security camera footage to prove himself, but discovers that the camera had been turned off and is caught by Mr. Prescott, who Kevin now believes to be Marv and Vera's mole. Molly then appears and gets Kevin out of trouble. Peter and Natalie then realize they've given Kevin a hard time and decide to make him feel better, so the three of them decide to decorate the tree.
The next morning, Peter and Kevin wake up and realize their tree was re-decorated because of Natalie. Kate, Buzz and Megan then decide to visit Kevin. Kate meets Natalie in person, and Kevin shows the entire house to Buzz and Megan. At a party for the royal family, while Peter and Natalie have gone to pick them up, Kevin notices Marv and Vera dressed up as waiters. Mr. Prescott warns Kevin about the night, so he then tricks Mr. Prescott into going into the freezer room before locking him in. Kevin then spies on Marv and Vera in his bedroom and hears them planning about kidnapping the royals. Unfortunately for them, Kevin makes sure that their plan is a failure and has them fall out and break the window. The royal family are unable to attend the party because their flight was cancelled, so Peter and Natalie instead announce their engagement to the party guests instead. Marv and Vera run back into the house and Kevin hits Marv with a frying pan, flips the table, and get soup spilled on Marv and Vera. They then chase Kevin, causing him to accidentally ruin the party. Peter is angered at this event, still refusing to believe Kevin about the break-in and instead believes that Kevin is trying to sabotage his relationship with Natalie.
Since no-one believes him about the heist, Kevin decides to take matters into his own hands, and sets booby traps for Marv and Vera. The next morning, Peter and Natalie go to pick up the royals and Kevin is left alone in the house. Marv and Vera wake up and head to the house. Kevin tricks and locks Mr. Prescott in the basement, but eventually discovers Marv and Vera's real mole is actually Molly, who also turns out to be Marv's mother as well. Kevin gets locked in the basement with Mr. Prescott. After apologizing to Mr. Prescott for misjudging him (and vice versa), Kevin manages to escape through the dumbwaiter. He then traps Marv under the dumbwaiter and unleashes his traps on Marv and Vera. Molly attempts to stop Kevin, but he manages to trap her in the elevator and runs to his bedroom. At the airport, Peter gets worried about Kevin and goes back to Natalie's to check on him. Back in the basement, Mr. Prescott then manages to escape through the dumbwaiter and goes to see if Kevin is alright. Just on the road, Kate, Buzz and Megan are on their way to save Kevin as well. Marv heads to the bedroom and ends up getting caught and stuck under the bookshelf. Kevin then plays a recording of Marv, making it sound like he's insulting Vera, which causes her to start arguing with him. Marv then gets hit by Kevin's electric aircraft making him fall and tumble down the stairs. Marv and Vera are then tricked by Kevin with a secret wall switch, end up swinging from a chandelier, and they fall and are knocked unconscious. Molly, having escaped from the elevator, grabs Kevin, but Mr. Prescott knocks her out with a serving tray. Then he and Kevin call the police.
As Peter, Kate, Buzz, and Megan arrive, Kevin, with Buzz and Megan's help, chases Marv and Vera out of the house and trips them up. The royal family and Natalie arrive, and Natalie is confused when she sees Molly getting arrested. An FBI agent reveals that Molly was actually the mastermind behind the whole plot to kidnap the royal family, with Marv and Vera as her lackeys. Everyone has a good Christmas as Peter breaks up with Natalie, Mr. Prescott resigns, the royals spend Christmas with the McCallisters, and it is a merry Christmas for everyone, except for Natalie, Marv, Vera and Molly.
Why It Sucks
- It's a rip-off of The Santa Clause.
- Very poor connection to the first two films:
- Despite the first two films establishing the McCallisters as a normal suburban family, they are somehow a rich and divorced family (granted, Peter and Kate do get back together in the end, but still) in this film.
- In the first two films, Kevin had four siblings; Buzz, Jeff, Megan and Linnie. But in this film, Kevin has only Buzz and Megan as siblings, while Jeff and Linnie are nowhere to be found.
- In the first film, Kevin says he's eight years old and in the second, he says he's ten years old. However, in this film, Kevin says he's nine years old.
- The film rehashes the same "kid sees the bad guys that the adults can't see" plot from the first two and does absolutely nothing new with it.
- The replacement cast look nothing like the original cast members. Their poor acting doesn't help either.
- Harry is totally absent in this film; he is instead replaced by Vera who is nowhere near as entertaining as Harry was when he was working with Marv, but he's mentioned when Marv tells Vera about how his plans kept landing him in jail.
- The traps are boring and stupid because two of them are built into the house, and the other trap that Kevin actually builds is just Kevin spilling soup on Marv and Vera.
- Kevin was never home alone (he had the maid and butler).
- There are several scenes in the film that are in some ways pretty amusing (e.g. the mansion flooding scene and when Kevin makes recordings of Marv’s backtalking and makes the recordings sound like he’s insulting Vera).
- Kevin is still awesome.
- Interesting plot twist with Molly actually being Marv's mother and the real mastermind behind the plot to kidnap the royal family.
- It can be considered to be non-canon.
- The ending is very good and heartwarming (Peter apologizes to Kevin for not believing him and Peter and Kate getting back together and Peter breaks up with Natalie).
- It was the final film that Rod Daniel (who directed the first Teen Wolf) ever directed, before his retirement and subsequent death in 2016.
- Harry, Marv's original partner-in-crime, is mentioned and is a nod to the first two films.
- Daniel Stern was approached to reprise his role as Marv, but quickly declined, calling the movie "an insult" and "total garbage".
- Joe Pesci wasn't offered to reprise his role as Harry. Instead, Harry's name was only mentioned.
- The producers had hoped that this movie would lead to a Home Alone television series, and several of the main cast members had clauses in their contracts that would have brought them back for such a series. This movie failed to perform up to expectations in the ratings, though, and the series never went ahead.
- Originally, this film was going to be a sequel to Home Alone 3. But the idea was scrapped and rewritten as another film in the franchise that revolves around Kevin McCallister once more, even though he is played by a different actor.
- In the original ending, Kevin's parents did not get back together. His father stayed with Natalie, and his mother started dating a police officer, who turned out to be Marv's younger, more honest brother. This was changed when the producers decided they wanted the film to set up a television series, and so Kevin's parents did get back together at the end, while the police officer was deleted altogether from the script.