Thursday, December 8, 2016

25 Days of Christmas: HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK

Welcome to Day 8 of our 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series, where we will be taking a look at holiday classics each day in the lead up to Christmas. Today we're looking at the first sequel to the highest-grossing holiday movie of all time: HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. Yesterday it was my sad lot to report that the original Home Alone has lost its luster somewhat since it set box office records twenty-five years ago. Home Alone 2, on the other hand, appears to have learned from the mistakes of the first movie and so gets to enjoy the rarefied company of sequels that are actually better than their predecessors. A feat made all the more significant by the fact that Home Alone 2 is basically the original Home Alone with only a handful of details changed.

Once again, the grotesquely huge Clan McAllister is getting the heck out of Chicago for the holiday, this time bound for Florida instead of France. Once again, Kevin's parents are the only ones who seem to use an alarm clock, and once again a power failure causes the whole house to sleep in and almost miss their flight. Unlike last time, they don't leave Kevin behind at home; instead, they lose track of him at the airport and Kevin winds up on a plane bound for the Big Apple. To his credit, he doesn't ditch them on purpose, though he and his family have once again decided they've had enough of each other.

Upon realizing he's once again on his own, Kevin decides to live it up, which he's able to do thanks to the fact that a search for batteries for his tape recorder left him with the bag containing his father's credit cards. But his joy is short lived as he once again runs afoul of Harry and Marv, the two bumbling crooks Kevin humiliated in the first movie. Somehow they have broken out of jail and wound up in New York, and by an astonishing coincidence they find Kevin among the millions of people in the city. And so once again, wacky hi-jinks and slapstick hilarity ensue.

It's kind of amazing just how closely Lost in New York mirrors the original Home Alone. As I said, the plot is virtually identical, but even the throwaway gags get an update. The rest of the McAllisters end up watching It's a Wonderful Life in a language other than English (in the first movie it was in French; this time it's in Spanish). The fake gangster movie Angels with Filthy Souls also gets a sequel, Angels with Even Filthier Souls, though I think they used the same tommy gun as before.

In addition to bringing back everyone from the first movie, Home Alone 2 adds some more recognizable names to its cast. Tim Curry appears as Tim Curry in the role of a meddlesome hotel concierge. Rob Schneider appears as a bellhop, and reminds us that, at one time, he was capable of playing straight comedy. There's even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by your next President. The future Dealmaker-In-Chief gives Kevin directions to the Plaza Hotel's lobby at about the 25-minute mark. So I guess you should consider this your trigger warning, if you need one.

Home Alone 2 is the movie the original Home Alone should have been. While the first movie turned Macaulay Culkin up to eleven immediately and only dialed him back occasionally, the sequel puts him on a tighter reign. Culkin doesn't even give his first real scream until almost an hour into the movie. The Christmas magic ending is less heavy-handed. There's less time spent on this movie's iteration of the scary old person who turns out to be nice, and there isn't a drop of aftershave in sight, thanks be to God. Kevin even spends much less time speaking his internal monologue than he did previously. Almost every problem I had with the first movie gets addressed here, though his climactic battle with the Wet Bandits includes Marv taking far more blows to the head than are strictly necessary.

Probably because its plot is identical to the first one, Home Alone 2 didn't see the same level of box office take as its predecessor. It wound up only the fourth biggest holiday money-maker of all time, following Ron Howard's How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. But because it's more content to just let us enjoy the story instead of making sure we're laughing when we're supposed to laugh, or feeling the magic of Christmas when we're supposed to feel it, this is the one I prefer.

There would be three more Home Alone movies made (none released theatrically), and yes, one of them is about Kevin and the McAllister Family: 2002's Home Alone: Taking Back the House, the fourth in this ongoing saga of parental negligence. None of the original cast return to reprise their roles, however. I confess a certain curiosity, but while I resign myself to the inevitability of a reboot, I think two installments are all I need to see of this series. I'll leave the rest alone.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is rated PG for comic action and mild language.

Robert's Score: 7/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new Christmas review every day, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you singing carols next!

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