Dec 15, 2014

Review: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

If I remember correctly, I believe that as a kid I actually liked Home Alone 2 more than the first Home Alone. Watching it now I can actually totally understand that. HO2 turns up the cartoony violence and adds a lot of things that make it super interesting for kids. We're talking an avalanche of room service desserts, one of the great toy store scenes in cinema history and a lot more. This is like a film buffet for kids with all the best Christmas treats.

Critical reception for Home Alone was already pretty cool and it's even cooler for Home Alone 2. All the same, for a movie that at times makes it a little too clear that it's probably only being made to capitalize on the success of the first movie, it hits a lot of the right notes if you ask me. Every important cast member from the first movie is back as are Chris Columbus and John Hughes which is key.


Genre: adventure, comedy, family
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Produced by: John Hughes, Duncan Henderson, Mark Radcliffe, etc.
Written by: John Hughes
Music by: John Williams
Running time: 120 minutes
Production company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Manuel Salvador, 20th Century Fox, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $20,000,000
Box office: $358,994,850 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara, John Heard, Devin Ratray, Hillary Wolf, Tim Curry, Brenda Fricker, Eddie Bracken, Dana Ivey, Rob Schneider, Maureen Elisabeth Shay, Michael C. Maronna, Gerry Bamman, Terrie Snell, Jedidiah Cohen, Senta Moses, Diana Rein, Kieran Culkin, Anna Slotky, Leigh Zimmerman, Ralph Foody, Clare Hoak



Things are as hectic as usual in the McCallister household on the eve of a Christmas trip to Florida. A However, a Christmas pageant is the first order of business in which many of the McCallister kids will be participating. Buzz (Devin Ratray) pulls a prank on Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) during the performance which ends up putting another rift between Kevin and his family. At the airport the next day, Kevin is separated from his dad and gets his wish; a vacation on is own in New York City.


I will say right off the bat that Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is pretty much the exact same movie as Home Alone is. Audiences usually seem to like that. If a first movie is super good, they most likely want to see the exact same thing again. People don't like different most of the time. Critics hate the same though which probably explains the low score on Rotten Tomatoes. It's not the only reason but probably one of the biggest.

I feel the same way as critics a lot of the time about sequels, but not for Home Alone 2 for some reason. I can't really explain how, but John Hughes is able to respectfully use the same plot line and recurring jokes without falling into the trap of being boring or repetitive. For the most part anyway. A lot of what happens is like a wink to the audience members, but not an overly obvious wink either. It's the kind of movie that benefits from being watched right after the original since you'll recognize a lot of familiar things that are cleverly woven into the story.

The humour is still very present and mostly very effective. Home Alone 2's quotableness is still very much there as well. Take the Uncle Frank (Gerry Bamman) shower scene for example where he's singing the Cool Whip commercial song. Some great product placement right? The scene is super funny anyway and Frank's threat "I'm going to slap you silly" has lived on with me for many, many years. Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) also of course have their great quotable moments.

Despite being twenty minutes longer, it seems like Macaulay Culkin is given a little less time to shine in HA2. There seems to be more of an effort at putting him in big moments than for him to individually make a moment great. He's still great in the role though and you can bet that HA2 would not have been as successful without him. He was definitely worth the $4.5 million salary paid to him.

Home Alone had a great little appearance from John Candy and he was supposed to be back for this one too. Not sure what happened but whether or not these two things are related, what we got was the always awesome Tim Curry. He's an added threat for young Kevin and he's deliciously fun to watch as the lead concierge. He's the kind of character you wish would get a lot more screen time. Rob Schneider is also lots of fun for once in what is a limited part as well.

Like I said before, HA2 dials up the cartoony violence even more. It's actually quite astounding how much so and I know that this is probably another area where people have problems with the movie as well. I personally didn't mind the increase in cartoon violence and it helps that Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern really bought into their roles and didn't just sleepwalk through it. With the help of stunt doubles, it all looks convincing and the strong use of sound is also a help in making every painful thing that happens to the newly dubbed Sticky Bandits all the more painful.  

Where I will admit there is a shortcoming in Home Alone 2 is the drama. There's a similar character to Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom) in the Pigeon Lady (Brenda Fricker) but she's just not as good or interesting. The scenes with her and Kevin are actually pretty dull and left me wanting more. (Spoilers) When it involves Kevin's mother (Catherine O'Hara) however, it's a different story. Their reunion scene is quite nice and I'm also a fan of the reconciliation between Kevin and his older brother Buzz. (End Spoilers)

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is indeed a weaker movie than its predecessor. It tries to be slightly bigger but also follows the same familiar storyline of the first movie. Hughes and Columbus are able to recapture the magic of Home Alone for the most part, but aren't able to reach the same level of success when it comes to the drama aspects of the film. It's still a fun movie that's incredibly quotable and memorable for a lot of the right reasons.



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