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Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

| November 24, 1992 | 0 Comments

Technically, Kevin isn’t home alone and he is not really lost in New York.  The only thing honest about that title is the ‘2’.

That’s not the only plot hole in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, a carbon copy retread of the highest grossing comedy of all time with almost none of that film’s wit or charm.  There wasn’t an urgent need for this movie beyond an opportunity to cash in on the brand name.  Hey, money talks.

Whereas Home Alone found a somewhat plausible explanation for Kevin’s separation from his family, this one redefines the word “contrived”.  The McAllistar family has decided this time to take a trip to Florida for Christmas. The night before their departure, Kevin’s Dad (John Heard, again) accidentally unplugs the clock radio, leading me to ask the following: Since they had this same problem last year, why not take extra precautions and buy battery operated clock? How about an alarm clock? A kitchen timer? A rooster? Because we wouldn’t have a movie, that’s why.

This time at least Kevin makes it as far as the airport, but the mish-mash that sends him off on his adventure occurs in the mass of humanity pushing through the airport terminal. Kevin loses sight of the family while changing the batteries in his Talkboy.  The family gets on a plane to Florida, while Kevin boards a plane to New York.

In New York, Kevin has a ball seeing the sights and touring the town in a way that no kid on Earth could possibly do without parental supervision.  He is also able to con a bunch of dimwitted adults into giving him a master suite at the Park Plaza hotel, using his father’s credit card.  How he’s able to do this is something that simply has to be accepted, not analyzed.  He is able to fool the staff into thinking that his father is present even though no one on the staff ever sees him.

Meanwhile, Harry and Marv (Joe Peschi and Daniel Stern), the two thug burglars from the original just happen to have escaped prison and made their way to New York.  Their plot is to rob a giant F.A.O. Schwartz-type toy store and steal the money that is intended to go to a children’s hospital. The store is run by Eddie Braken who, in a bizarre (or should I say contrived) coincidence, just happens to have made friends with Kevin. “You can mess with a lot of things”, Kevin says, “but you can’t mess with kids on Christmas.”  So, that leads inevitably to the big pratfall extravaganza of full of fake doorknobs, paint cans-to-the-face and shots the groin as Kevin unleashes a hell-storm of practical jokes. What worked in the original, somehow feels mean-spirited here. The climax takes place in a townhouse that is being renovated where Kevin drops 100 pound sacks of cement on the burglars and even electrocutes one with an arc welder. I don’t know why but somehow the pratfalls felt nasty and mean-spirited this time. What was mildly funny in the original just seems cruel here, right down to the point where Harry gets so frustrated with little Kevin that he traps the kid in Central Park and puts a gun in his face.

So basically, this film, with a change in location repeats exactly the same formula as the first one.  All charm and wit (not to mention originality) of Home Alone are gone except for the presence of Macaulay Culkin whose performance here is probably better than the movie deserves.  He’s a natural actor, yes, but what is special about him is his delivery.  There are moments here when he grabs a facial expression at just the right moment.  He has a pure God-given gift for comedy.

I just wish that writer John Hughes and director Chris Columbus could have come up with something more original for him to do.  Culkin works well under the circumstances, but no one in the cast can escape the fact that is not a formula that can be stretched into a workable sequel.  Everything here is a copy of the original right down to Kevin’s friendship with a Pigeon Lady (Brenda Fricker) who lives in the park.  His friendship with Old Man Marley in the first film was sweet because it had a touching payoff.  His friendship with the Pigeon Lady goes nowhere.

If there is one thing (besides Culkin) that I did like in Home Alone 2 it was it was the performance of Catherine O’Hara who again plays Kevin’s mother.  O’Hara is a veteran of SCTV, and a very gifted comedienne, but something about her performance in this film felt real. Not the comedy bits, but in the drama. She has a son who is somewhere in New York and the fear and confusion that she displays feels real. I only wished that I could have seen more of her and less of the burglars. I also wish that I could have seen more of her with Kevin than just a brief scene at the beginning and at the end.

I am positive that kids will love this movie.  There’s no doubt.  I am hoping that if there is a Home Alone 3, it will move in another direction, maybe embracing the relationship between Kevin and his mother and allowing us to get to know them without separating them.  Maybe next time, the whole family could stay home alone. Just saying.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1992) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy, Kids