Written by: John Hughes
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Tim Curry
Creating rehashed sequels may guarantee box office success because it gives the audience more of what they liked but it makes for meritless art. This has not prevented Hollywood from retreading the same story as is the case for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Another misadventure for the McCallisters but one with repeated jokes and only showing the main protagonist to be incredibly mean-spirited.
With the McCallister family deciding to spend Christmas in Miami, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) objects because of the warm climate. When Kevin gets left in New York, he decides to stay in a hotel but then runs into the bandits from last Christmas once again in the big city. He now attempts to stop their upcoming robbery of a beloved toy store.
Change of setting, sure, but outside of that, it becomes difficult to find the entertainment in this sequel to a Christmas classic. If anything, the lack of quality and downward spiral here negatively impacts the legacy of the first one because it makes the once cute protagonist into a bit of a sadist in the way he goes about taking on these bandits with impunity.
Sure, Kevin’s attempts to further humiliate them come with the booby traps everyone loved from the first feature, but instead of this occurring in defense, they come as an offensive move against these bandits. Kevin knows their plan and what they want to rob this go-around and instead of doing the sensible thing of simply alerting the police and staying away he decides to take the opportunity to inflict more pain on these men unnecessarily. It takes away from the fun and it just becomes a bit weird to watch, especially when we must endure yet another run of the stupidity of the other members of the McCalister family.
Telling the same type of story twice with nearly no differences does a disservice to the characters because if they make the same grave mistake twice then it becomes difficult to sympathize with them. Goes with the old adage of fooling me once and twice. This occurs with Kevin’s family members when they inexplicably forget him once again and this time in New York City and not the safety of their home. So, the film argues Kevin’s mom Kate (Catherine O’Hara) has not learned anything from the previous Christmas and does not have that kid attached to her hip as they progress through the airport. The improbable forgetfulness to which Kate learned her lesson in the first feature taking every means to get from Paris to Chicago when it appeared to be an impossible feat thus means very little in retrospect.
There’s no pleasure in slagging off this movie seeing as it goes for bringing enjoyment to kids in the holiday season but when you have John Hughes writing the script you would expect some modicum of originality if doing a sequel considering all of the wonderful coming of age works he has managed to create throughout his career. Instead, it feels like a lazy attempt to cash in on something that worked so well the first time around. Granted, it certainly worked in a commercial sense but my goodness it just feels completely soulless as a feature film, which is truly all that matters in regard to reviewing it.
If any positives could be gleaned from this film it comes from the addition of other characters like Tim Curry portraying a concierge and Brenda Fricker as the Pigeon Lady. Curry adds the usual comedic presence he usually brings to any project as the employee always looking for a tip and Fricker plays to the sympathy of Kevin as the young boy initially has great fear for her but begins to understand her plight. However, the positives they do bring to the story get done away with Kevin further proving he’s a little runt in the way he treats the concierge around tipping, especially during the holiday season and the Pigeon Lady comes as the same arc of the old neighbor from the first film. So yes, minimal positives but evidently gets undone by the horrid story surrounding it.
Unoriginality stinks but it becomes a downright insult to the audience when you try to run the same story once again but just placed it in a different setting. Ultimately, it makes watching this film a waste of time when you can just easily turn around and watch the original again, which contains the beloved charm and you don’t see Kevin McCallister go from a naive young boy to an annoying and psychopathic little scoundrel.