The third time isn't always the charm Movie review: Director John Hughes may just be going to this 'Home Alone' well too many times, although the film is awash in nifty actors.


The stakes soar in the third installment of John Hughes' 1990 box-office hit, "Home Alone," but that doesn't necessarily mean the movie is better.

"Home Alone 3," which was written by Hughes, doubles the crooks and pushes his patent formula into high-tech heaven, but in its soft and sentimental heart, it's still a movie about a little boy defending his home against invaders -- in this case, four international criminals pursuing a stolen, top-secret computer chip.

Alex Pruitt (Alex D. Linz) shovels snow from neighborhood driveways to earn a little money. Because he doesn't do the job just as old Mrs. Hess (Marian Seldes) has asked, she grumpily refuses to pay him. Instead, she hands over a remote-control race car she erroneously confiscated when she took the wrong bag at the airport.

A computer chip worth millions on the black market has been stashed inside the toy, and the four industrial spies who took it are hot on her trail. They follow her to the plush Chicago suburb, where little Alex is keeping watch with his telescope from his family's house across the street. And he's just caught the chicken pox, so he's home alone and ready to face the bad guys.

"Home Alone 3" introduces Alex D. Linz, a cherubic faced kid seen in TV commercials -- in the role made famous by Macaulay Culkin, now a teen.

The film labors especially hard to give us a gentler, kinder kid protagonist than the more mean-spirited Culkin, who was often rude and hurtful to his film family. This Alex and his mom, Karen (Haviland Morris), have a harmonious, playful relationship. Yet it works against the film: It makes the good guys dull and the bad guys more fun.

Though the movie tries to run with the deeper notion that adults can't revert to the level of kids and rarely believe what children tell them, it's still basically the same old movie, full of the same old pratfalls and pranks.

It does feature terrific actors, most with experience in the theater and independent films: Olek Krupa, Rya Kihlstedt, Lenny Von Dohlen and David Thornton Kevin Kilner, Morris, and Seldes.

'Home Alone 3'

Directed by Raja Gosnell

Starring Alex D. Linz, Haviland Morris, Olek Krupa, Marian Seldes, Kevin Kilner

Released by 20th Century Fox

Rated PG (violence)

Sun score: **

Pub Date: 12/13/97

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