With the streaming release of Home Sweet Home Alone, there are now six Home Alone films to be ranked from best to worst. The first Home Alone movie, simply titled Home Alone and directed by Chris Columbus, was released in 1990. It became an instant classic, with a sequel released two years later with almost all of the original cast. These movies have been followed by four more, most with a completely new cast of Home Alone characters. Each of the Home Alone movies has a pretty similar premise: a child somehow gets left home alone (or somewhere else without their guardians) with no parental supervision, while burglars try to break into his location.
There have been a few variations on the motive for the villains in the Home Alone movies. Home Alone 2 focused on revenge against the kid who put two burglars in jail following the events of the first Home Alone movie. Home Sweet Home Alone is about a couple trying to retrieve a stolen item. While the first two films are considered Christmas classics and air on television multiple times annually, most of the other titles are fairly forgettable, with the remaining titles being largely considered as outright bad. This list closely examines all six films, ranking them from worst to best.
6. Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House
This is the only Home Alone reboot featuring Kevin, though Culkin did not reprise the role (child actor Mike Weinberg stepped in). In this film, Kevin McCallister’s parents have separated. His father, Peter, is now living with his wealthy fiancée, Natalie. Kevin visits them for Christmas, while they plan to host a royal family. Kevin initially has a lot of fun in the mansion until he catches his old nemesis Marv (now played by French Stewart) and his wife Vera (Missy Pyle). He ends up having to set multiple traps for them inside the mansion. After the arrest, the royal family chooses to spend their vacation with the McCallisters and Peter decides to go back to his family.
The only thing worse than a bad movie is a boring movie, and, unfortunately, this one is both. The Home Alone movie is largely forgettable with a convoluted plot, whereas the cast lacks the charm and sincerity of the original Home Alone actors. Critics and audiences have noted that the acting in the film is incredibly awful, with Stewart and Pyle being both over-the-top and one-note with their performances.
5. Home Alone: The Holiday Heist
After Home Alone 4, the Home Alone movies took a 10-year break, returning in 2012 with Home Alone: The Holiday Heist. This one follows the very anxious introvert Finn. Finn’s family moves into a new home, unaware that it previously belonged to a famous gangster. However, a trio of burglars does know, and they want a famous lost painting hanging in the secret speakeasy. Finn finds evidence of them casing the home, but he initially believes the culprits to be ghosts. He realizes the truth when his sister becomes trapped in a hidden room while the pair are, in typical Home Alone Fashion, left home alone. He sets several traps for the villains while he tries to get her out.
Home Alone: The Holiday Heist mostly just retreads territory from the original, and not well. Eddie Steeples’ Mr. Hughes’ character has also garnered criticism for his stereotypical role as an unintelligent, black, gangster-type safecracker. The cast did what they could with the script, but the story overall offers few surprises or twists.
4. Home Alone 3
Home Alone 3 has the most outrageous plot on this list. Alex is given a toy RC car by his neighbor as a reward for shoveling snow. What neither of them knows is that she accidentally grabbed the wrong package at the airport and this car has a computer chip from a North Korean terrorist group in it. Stuck home alone with the chickenpox in this semi-reboot Home Alone sequel, Alex has to defend his home from the group of international criminals trying to steal back their microchip.
Perhaps falling under the endearingly “so bad it’s good” category of films, Home Alone 3‘s script delivers a premise is so outrageous that it’s almost unreal the sequel was greenlit. However, the film, unlike other Home Alone sequel and reboot attempts, at least tries to do justice for the original films. Alex D. Lindz’s Alex is adorable and precocious. He phones both the police and the air force, though neither initially believes his story. The film has a few amusing moments, as well as a young Scarlett Johansson in a co-starring role that’s certainly fun for Black Widow fans to see.
3. Home Sweet Home Alone
The newest film in the series puts a twist on the familiar format. Set in the same world as the original Kevin McCallister Home Alone films, Jeff and Pam McKenzie are faced with the prospect of losing their home when Max and his mother point out a valuable antique doll. After the doll goes missing, the couple assumes Max took it and tries to break into his home to retrieve it. Max misunderstands this as a kidnapping attempt and sets traps to defend himself.
This film actually tries to put some originality into the story, with “villains” who are relatable and not completely stock evil characters. The cast is full of talented, well-known actors who have solid comedic timing. There are lots of fun callbacks to the original films, making it more of a remake than an addition to the series. There’s even a cameo by Kevin’s brother Buzz. However, many Home Sweet Home Alone reviews were not positive, finding it cliché and full of glaring plot-holes.
2. Home Alone
The original is a classic. Kevin McCallister wishes his loud family would leave him alone. A mix-up while counting heads on the way to their vacation grants his wish. Kevin soon realizes that being Home Alone isn’t as fun as he thought it would be when robbers Marv and Harry repeatedly try to break in. Kevin ends up setting a series of booby traps to catch the criminals.
In many ways, every film in the series that has followed it has just been trying to recreate the magic of this one. It’s an absolute must-see every Christmas and was unique at its release. There have been a few plot holes pointed out by audiences over the years. Many have critiqued Mrs. McCallister’s treatment of Kevin (and her parenting style in general). Yet, even so, the film has remained solid nearly 30 years after its initial release.
1. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
It’s rare that a sequel lives up to the original, and even rarer that it surpasses it. However, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York outshines its predecessor. In this iteration, a mix-up at the airport puts Kevin on the wrong flight. He finds himself alone in New York City. Initially, Kevin lives his best life eating cheese pizza, riding in limos, and toy shopping. However, an overzealous hotel worker and a run-in with Marv and Harry put Kevin on the streets and in danger. He finds himself once again setting traps to protect himself and catch the criminals.
There are so many iconic parts of this film. Tim Curry is Home Alone 2‘s secret weapon. His Grinch-like sneer, campy performance, and unique flexibility to switch from villain to comic relief do so much for this film. In addition, a whole toy (the Talkboy) was invented and sold because of this film. Finally, the line “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal,” born from this sequel, lives in infamy. It’s become synonymous with the season and, for this reason, the second film is the best in the Home Alone movies.
What Next For The Home Alone Franchise?
With the Home Alone movies continually coming down the pipeline, is there going to be a Home Sweet Home Alone 2? Disney is known as the pinnacle franchise creator and reviver, bringing back such mega-hits as the Star Wars series and creating a whole universe with the MCU. That being said, some things should just be left alone. As of now, the House of Mouse has not announced a sequel to Home Sweet Home Alone, though Disney is no doubt willing to tack on another installment if the budget is reasonable and the first film is well-received. A big test here will be its Disney+ streaming figures in Xmas 2022, where it’ll be judged against other Christmas classics rather than as a new release. Just in case, however, the Home Alone reboot ends with total resolution and zero plot threads left undone, not setting up a sequel of any kind.
While there will always be fans demanding more, there’s an obvious elephant in the room — should there really be a sequel to Home Sweet Home Alone? The Home Alone sequels and reboots of the past proved that the endeavor can’t really live up to the originals, and the most recent Disney+ reboot of the former Fox franchise did precisely the same. Home Sweet Home Alone got negative reviews across the board, which should’ve been enough to kill the possibility of a sequel. All in all, it’s probably best to let sleeping dogs lie and forgo any more Home Alone movies in the future.