Vital Thrills got a chance to talk to the cast of the new Disney+ film Home Sweet Home Alone, which is available on the streaming service today. The film is set in the universe of the Home Alone films.
In the movie, Max Mercer is a mischievous and resourceful young boy who has been left behind while his family is in Japan for the holidays. So when a married couple attempting to retrieve a priceless heirloom set their sights on the Mercer family’s home, it is up to Max to protect it from the trespassers… and he will do whatever it takes to keep them out.
Hilarious hijinks of epic proportions ensue, but despite the absolute chaos, Max comes to realize that there really is no place like home sweet home.
Home Sweet Home Alone is directed by Dan Mazer from a screenplay by Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell, story by Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell and John Hughes based on a screenplay by John Hughes. Hutch Parker and Dan Wilson produce, with Jeremiah Samuels serving as executive producer.
Rob Delaney plays Jeff, one of the couple breaking into Max’s (Archie Yates) house after he’s left home alone by his frazzled mother Carol (Aisling Bea). He talked about the physical demands of his slapstick role.
“We started stunt training well before we started shooting, thank goodness. And we were really required to do most of the stunts in the film. Yes, professional stunt people did them as well and if we did a bad job, they edited them in, but they really put us through the paces, which frankly, was shocking to me because I thought that I would just have to dip in for a humorous rejoinder now and then. But they’re like, ‘No, we’re going to require you to be in the entire film and doing the stunts,’ which was scary, educational, and really very fun.”
Ellie Kemper plays Jeff’s wife Pam, the other half of the crime duo. She added, “It turned out to be a lot of fun. I hadn’t done anything like that before. It was challenging but also funny and athletic in a way that I wasn’t expecting.”
The cast agreed on the grossest stunt, which involved Delaney getting a huge lump on his head from Archie’s antics. Ally Maki, who plays Jeff’s wealthy sister-in-law Mei, said that it was “challenging” to keep a straight face when she saw the makeup for that. “It was so gross, looked like a giant pimple. And then in between he would cover over and be like, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I’m like, ‘I can’t take you seriously right now.'”
Bea agreed, “Yeah, that was fairly disgusting because I didn’t see any of the stunts. So again, we just had Rob walking around chatting away and you’re trying not to vomit as you’re looking at his face, which is a feeling I would normally have about you anyways, Rob, but this is now times 10.”
Yates plays Max and spoke about how he channeled his inner Kevin McAllister. “I did take a lot of inspiration from the original Home Alone movies. I mean, I religiously watched them every year at Christmas… so it was pretty easy for me to relate. But then again, Max Mercer is supposed to be a completely different character from Kevin McAllister. So while I did want it to be the classic, ‘Ah,’ I also wanted it to be more original and a bit different because that’s what this film is all about. It’s the same universe, but it’s a completely different story.”
Bea spoke about the classic moment from the original Home Alone films that she wanted to incorporate into the new one. “For me, it was the emotional moment of seeing your son again and that moment at the door. And that’s, I think, because you get such a feeling from that moment and then also unemotionally, the brown coat, that the mother has a brown coat. Some actors worked differently. I worked from the coat out.”
Maki said her pick wasn’t a moment. She said, “I mean, just purely the hijinx. I feel like we all grew up on this movie and just seeing the booby traps being set, I think we all wanted to have a booby trap house growing up. And growing up, I had one of the, you know how they have the Talkboy? I had the Talkgirl, which is the pink version of that recording device. And I just thought I was so cool all day just talking and recording it back.”
For Delaney, it was the danger. He said, “I mean, the stunts and the things that happen to our characters are truly horrible. I mean, Max, by definition, what he does to us is torture. I mean, what he does to us is prohibited under the Geneva Convention. So in terms of the film Home Alone, we really wanted to have that real danger be a part of what we were doing. And it was easy to do because you’ve got projectiles headed at your skull at hundreds of miles an hour falling from great heights, actual fire and ice. So yeah, just making sure that the real peril was a part of this story was important to us.”
Kemper added, “Do you remember the day the flour that’s all over the floor when Max hits you with a flour sack was actually baby powder, secrets revealed. And the man administering the baby powder was, we loved him as a person, but our enemy professionally, because he just kept adding gallons and gallons of baby powder to the day.
One thing that makes this film different than the earlier films is that there is really no bad guy. Even the villains here have a really good reason for what they do. Kempter said, “…our mission was one inspired by, I think, goodness. I think we wanted, our motives were good. We wanted to save our family.”
Delaney jokingly added, “That said though, for me, there is a villain in the film and he’s played by Archie Yates and his character is named Max Mercer because we’re trying to get back our stuff that we need to save our family, so throughout filming, I didn’t think of myself as a method actor, but the whole time I was like, ‘Oh, Max is the enemy.’ So when I watched the final film and you for felt sympathetic towards Max, I was like, ‘This must be a different film than the one I appeared in.’ So certainly in watching it, I think there’s no antagonists but in filming it, I was like, ‘Max is my enemy and he must come to harm.'”
The cast also spoke about honoring the original films. Bea said, “There’s a bit of a change in the balance of evil versus good. So in Home Alone 1 and 2, you were very aware of who was bad and who was good. And now this time around, you can understand the burglars, where are they coming from emotionally in the movie. And I think there’s a lot more evil in young Max.”
Delaney said that Maki’s character is “going to blow your mind… there’s no precedent, so you’re going to be very excited.”
Maki responded, “You are too kind. I mean, honestly, just being in this cast has been amazing. And I feel like I loved working with Dan Mazer, our director, who did all the Borat, Ali G stuff, so he really let everyone… It was just when I walked on set, I was like, ‘Oh, he just lets us go.’ And Tim and I would go places where we don’t even know what we just did but it was so much fun in that way. Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell did such a good job of bringing such funny, witty writing to it, so I just had a blast.”