In 1997 Home Alone 3 hit theaters, and with it, audiences across the country accepted that a child would attempt to commit murder on four North Korean operatives and that was totally fine. That’s because unlike a normal cat burglar situation — the first two Home Alone movies featured petty thieves just trying to ruin Christmas for a family of multi-millionaires — Home Alone 3 is actually a matter of national security. It is also, I argue, the most metal Home Alone movie ever made. Now that the film is streaming on Disney+, it’s time to talk about why this movie so damn hardcore.
Basically, this is what happens: Alex Pruitt is an eight-year-old who, like Kevin McAllister of the first two Home Alone films, lives in a very affluent Chicago neighborhood. Early on, his elderly neighbor is at the airport and accidentally grabs a piece of luggage that isn’t hers in the security line. When she realizes that it’s a toy car, she gives it to her next-door neighbor, Alex, as a kind of thank-you for shoveling her driveway. Great!
But what Mrs. Hess doesn’t know is that the mixed up toy car she stole is actually housing a $10 million computer chip that can cloak missiles and that she accidentally took it from the hands of four thieves who are working for, and this is not a joke, a North Korean terrorist organization. Those thieves: Peter Beaupre, Earl Unger, Burton Jernigan, and Alice Ribbons. Realizing that the chip made it to Chicago, these four pretend to buy a house in the area and be new neighbors of their affluent counterparts. They then set up shop to see who, if anyone, has the toy car.
So, the stakes in Home Alone 3 are already clearly far and above those of Kevin’s world. This all feels closer to a latter-era Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie than anything in the Macaulay Culkin films. And, just like Bond, the terror that Alex unleashes on these thieves (he, at some point, realizes they are after the computer chip) is damn near homicidal. This kid has a license to kill and he knows how to use it.
Alex, who does, admittedly, call the police at the beginning of the movie while home with chickenpox (which is why he is Home Alone.) As a result of that call, the cops make him come to the station and apologize for lying. He is not lying. And because the adults don’t believe him, little Alex unleashes hell, certain death, and bodily mutilation on the four thieves. What else would he do?
Alex rigs a trunk of books and a barbell to fall on Peter’s and Earl’s heads, respectively. How would that not have killed them? A spring-loaded boxing glove that punches Peter in the nuts, which then causes his gun to misfire, which could have killed him! He falls down at least one floor into the basement and crushes another human being, which could have killed one, or both of them! At the end of the movie, attempting to hide in a snow fort, fireworks go off in the tiny fort, which should have killed Peter.
Earl gets hit by a minivan (not exactly Alex’s fault), gets electric shocked while trying to cut a fence (absolutely Alex’s fault), gets hit in the head by a window, and, less fatally, his feet get glued into toy carts with wheels. He also falls dozens of feet into the basement, gets his fingers caught in a mousetrap, gets covered in raw sewage and then accidentally jumps into a frozen pool from the attic in the midst of a Chicago winter. That he didn’t die of the cold is shocking.
Burton gets electric shocked by a chair that was attached to a car battery (feels fatal) and somehow doesn’t die, brains splitting open over the unfinished basement when a running lawn mower falls on him from the ceiling. He also falls three stories into the basement, somehow not breaking every bone in his body and also lands in the frozen swimming pool with Earl. (Earl does not die.)
Alice Ribbons gets dragged by a dog across a yard, getting her hand stuck in a bucket of industrial glue (luckily, she was wearing gloves.) She gets hit by not one, but two, flower pots, She also falls three stories down a dumbwaiter shaft and she suffers temporary paralysis. So, you know.
Then the cops come and they’re so glad Alex is okay and sorry that they didn’t listen to him earlier. They have absolutely no comments about the two grown adults developing hypothermia after being stuck in a frozen pool for an hour in the midst of a Chicago winter; no questions about the woman suffering partial, temporary paralysis after falling three stories down a dumbwaiter, and not a single comment about the man who got fireworked out of a backyard igloo. Never mind the fact that these booby traps were clearly set with intent and that much of it (like the falling lawnmower) should conceivably have been fatal.
Is Alex okay? Is he a part of a Chicago-regional training program where eight-year-old boys are trained to set up elaborate, Rube Goldberg-style murder weapons? Were the cops in on it the whole time? Or is Alex simply going to become the next vigilante-style murderer of petty thieves and intergovernmental operatives? It’s hard to say.
But one thing is for sure. Remember when everyone said that James Bond defending his house in Skyfall was like Home Alone? Yeah, they weren’t talking about the original film. In our hearts, Home Alone 3 is the hardest action movie of the Home Alone franchise, and it should make Bond blush.