“Home Alone” was a smash hit in America, and to this day it’s one of the landmark blockbuster films of all time based solely around such a simplistic formula of comedy and storytelling. After the success of “Home Alone” every single studio in America from the big guns to the low budget filmmakers sought to create their very own successful film starring a rambunctious kid and a group of inept criminals with some physical comedy thrown in for good measure. Many variations tried and failed. Among them was Charles Band’s very own “Remote.” Directed by Ted Nicolaou “Remote” is a film I vaguely remember back in the days of VHS rentals.
My dad attempted to find something my brother and I could feast on to keep us company and happened upon “Remote” which I recall as a fairly passable yet forgettable clone of the Macaulay Culkin juggernaut. Even then I knew this film was attempting to mimic the antics of the aforementioned classic and just wasn’t buying it. Watching it years later, “Remote” has a gimmick going for it, and its the main characters very own remote control toys. One thing Charles Band is a fan of creating miniature characters of a sort with personality and he finds a way to include that knack with “Remote” where main character Randy Mason has a slew of remote control toys. He has planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, and even a yodeling figurine that can carry anything it pleases. Of course the latter figurine feels like a “Puppet Master” stalwart, but that’s merely Full Moon’s sensibilities creeping in.
The filmmaker attempts to instill personalities within the trucks and planes, but there is only so much the editing and fancy direction can do for the toys. Of course Randy is a wiser than thou individual who travels to abandoned project houses in the middle of the mountains everyday to play with his toys and be alone. Just his luck three bumbling crooks are on the run after a botched robbery attempt and wouldn’t you know it? They decide to hide out in Randy’s favorite spot, and the battle of wits ensues. As the formula dictates, Randy is basically alone. When he gets home he’s alone with his toys as his workaholic parents toil away for a promotion, and when he reaches the model house he’s home alone with the crooks. The sad part about “Remote” that never quite feels apparent is that the writers never really take advantage of the quirks of the house or Randy’s toys.
The movie tries for “Home Alone” stunts but fails to muster up any kind of laughs. There’s a thumb tack in a shoe gag (Randy conveniently has thumb tacks on hand), and a gag revolving around handily placed cigarette packs in the house floor, but other than that the comedy is scant and rare. The crooks themselves are incredibly over the top and given way too much focus. For a good time the film centers on the escapades of the bungling criminals as Randy tries to figure a way out to alert the authorities and that’s pretty much all it has going for it. Jessica Bowman is a cutey Pie as Randy’s neighbor and love interest who holds the key to Randy’s whereabouts, but ends up getting herself in to Lois Lane type trouble with the crooks when common sense evades her.
She should alert the police but instead goes looking for Randy herself, leading to the big showdown in the finale where Randy’s toys come to the rescue committing acts of strength that no normal toy would. Admittedly “Remote” is such a silly bone headed movie that panders to the “Home Alone” crowd of that decade, but if you sit back and let it take you to the destination, it’s not such a bad low rent kids film. It’s silly and dunderheaded with its intent aimed solely toward the Macaulay Culkin fan boys of that decade, but as a relic of a time where every studio had to have their own “Home Alone” success story, it’s a pleasing and fairly goofy time waster that lasts barely eighty minutes in length. If you’re up to re-living the nineties with this film, do so and wish you had these magical toys with you.