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"Home Alone"

. "Millions"

Taking up the comedic themes of "Home Alone" alongside other worldly ones out of "Sixth Sense," director Danny Boyle has put together a formulaic miscalculation that's as distastefully cast as it was conceptualized.

Damian (Alexander Etel) is the younger of two brothers who is not only named for a saint (god-forbid that we don't understand that the child is specially gifted) but spends his precious boyhood days reading up on and ejoying visitations by saints that only he can see and converse with, ala "Sixth Sense." So, one day when he's in his cardboard "hideout" in the back yard, a bag full of British pounds falls off a train, takes a few bounces, and lands on his makeshift house, he assumes its a gift from the heavens that must be used to help the poor and other needy people.

His older brother Anthony (Lewis McGibbon) is a bit wiser in the ways of finances, the imperative need for secrecy in the face of universal greed (not his own, of course), and the impending arrival of a whole new currency, the Euro. The hundreds of thousands that they now possess and consider their own need to be exchanged pronto.

One of the problems with keeping the secret and with the movie, is that Damian is a willful know-it-all-and-better-than-thee with the self-righteous obstinacy of a pre-pubescent brat. This not only provides some basis for being found out in order to keep the drama alive, but does the movie in by punishing us with the hideous creation that the device makes necessary rather than the vulnerable and susceptible one the film needs.

Damian's character lays a cold blanket over whatever comedy might have been extracted from the situation, especially when the bank robber who survived the fate of his mates and who threw the bags of loot off the train for later retrieval, comes calling for his property. (The big bad guy against helpless pre-adolescents who have something he wants, ala "Home Alone" but without a Culkin in sight.)

Between the magical spirits and the central character's spoiled spirit, this fantasy is too heavy to float off the ground. It seems chained to a mentality of confused ill humor and more clueless storytelling than the wit to arouse sympathetic interest in its contrived plot and precocious plotters. Boyle would be well-advised to refrain from spreading his subject matter into areas he knows not well, but to concentrate on his successful genres, like those of "28 Days Later" and "Trainspotting," where his considerable genius and understanding lie.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

any person that does not find this movie touching and moving is heartless and pitiful.They should try very hard to be more like Damian... a 10 year old with more heart than most 50 year olds.

                                                   ~~ Dane
Well written
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
No rating

This is one of those reviews which I read while thinking, "did we see the same movie?" My take on Damien was simply completely different and I thought the movie was a little gem.

                                                   ~~ Shane
[Ed.'s note: Thanks, Shane, for disagreeing without names or mischaracterizations. Clearly, I'm outnumbered, at least by the few folks who have written in with their comments. I guess I have a thing about such willful little brats and can't forgive because of the "cutesy" factor. As the reactions show, the filmmakers have found their audience and their calculation trumps the reactions of someone who isn't a part of it.]

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Lewis Owen McGibbon and Alexander Nathan Etel
Not-so-cute plotters with a fortune.

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