Remote (1993) — Home Alone, only with more R/C

“Payback time, butthead.”

Justin’s rating: What else is on?

Justin’s review: If there’s one thing I learned from the movies in the 1990s — other than the fact that morphing technology was totally rad — it was that kids love watching movies where other kids get the best of adults. Home Alone was the king of that sub-genre, but John Hughes’ smash hit was by no means all by itself.

And if you’re going to feature a Youth smacking around crooks, it’s best if you come at it with a fresh angle. For 1993’s Remote, it was giving its antagonist a veritable arsenal of remote controlled vehicles and technology. Sprinkle in some genuinely funny bits and a zippy runtime, and it’s a candidate for being a guilty pleasure, even for much older kids at heart.

Our hero of this movie is Randy (Chris Carrara), a bespectacled young teen who is more into remote controlled everything than picking up the signals that his best friend Judy (a stiff Jessica Bowman) is fawning all over him. The pair make a vacant model house their own personal secret fortress, using it to play with all of their cars and planes and whatnot.

I should mention that one of the little gadgets that Randy has is a remote controlled German figure who looks like Adolf Hitler in lederhosen. It’s never explained, and it really needs to be. Seriously weirded me out.

Using this model home puts Randy in direct confrontation with a trio of wanna-be convenience store robbers, who also try to make the house their own hideout. What’s absolutely laughable before this, when this movie keeps turning on dire news reports about an attempted robbery of a 7-11 and making everyone in the room stop to look at it all worried-like. I mean, c’mon guys, there’s foreshadowing and then there’s “beating your audience over the head with the slowest news day ever.”

Once the criminals set up shop and Randy finds himself trapped in the attic of the house, it’s either fight to get out or wait until cellphones are created. Following the Home Alone formula closely, Remote’s adult crooks are all bungling idiots, which roughly puts them on equal footing with a 13-year-old kid with a few toys.

One area where Remote struggles is in giving Randy proper motivation to mess with the criminals. Home Alone? Kevin was following the Castle Defense and protecting his house. Remote? Randy gets himself trapped in an attic and can’t think of any way to get out, so he amuses himself by making the bad guys’ lives a living hell. But all through this, Randy is kind of a neutral presence — he’s not cracking jokes, he’s not afraid, he’s not anything other than necessary to the plot.

Even so, I think I would’ve liked Remote quite a lot if I had stumbled onto it as a kid (despite the fact I was 17 when this came out). But you know what? It still was perfectly enjoyable thanks to that ’90s comedy kookiness and the weird obsession these kids have with remoted controlled vehicles. And how can you not love this poster:

Didja notice?

  • I’m always down for an animated title credit sequence for a comedy
  • Kids had a whole lot of hair in the ’90s
  • Jamal’s suicide bike run got a well-deserved laugh
  • This kid has so many remote controls he needs a full cabinet for them?
  • The Hitler-esque doll
  • “Miss Chiuaua, a nuclear physics major from Hungary…”
  • His remote control can turn off TVs in completely different houses?
  • Yeah, just throw a plastic bag full of hot dogs to a bulldog without unwrapping them
  • The model house has no gutters, which is hard for me, a home owner, to overlook. GET GUTTERS.
  • I don’t think this girl ever makes eye contact with her costars
  • This kid is way too concerned about a brief news report
  • I would watch a movie about Brother Milo
  • That mom’s hat screams “Winona Ryder!”
  • “Ever see plastic melt?” This bully is not as sinister as he thinks he is.
  • The science of Jamalogy
  • The GIANT FIREBALL the plane makes when Randy crashes it in the classroom
  • Now we get the THIRD news report about this robbery-that-didn’t-happen
  • Don’t eat the fake food in fake houses
  • What model home puts pressure sensors under the carpet?
  • Super giant car phones
  • Haha putting boogers in coffee
  • Using a yodeling doll to steal steak is a very roundabout way of going about this
  • Remember when kids used pay phones and answering machines? Remote does!
  • Wait, his Godzilla breathes real fire?
  • Remote controlled airplanes can fully tie people up and shave their heads

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