Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

“Merry Christmas, you filthy animal.”

Justin’s rating: Completely upset that the Wet Bandits didn’t stop up any sinks this time around.

Justin’s review: We all know how it usually goes with rushed sequels that are greenlit after a movie is an unexpected smash hit. The quality level will dip, the plot will be xeroxed from the first, and subsequent viewings will only make us pine for the original. And while all of this can fairly be said about Home Alone 2, the truth is that even still — it’s a good movie.

Plus, can you blame the filmmakers for rushing against the clock of Macaulay Culkin’s imminent puberty? These movies are sold on the premise of a really little kid pulling the wool over the eyes of grown-ups, and that becomes somewhat less darling when you’ve got acne, voice cracks, and hormonal imbalance. I think it’s amazing that Home Alone 2 actually works as well as it does considering how quick the turnaround to making it must have been.

This time around, not-quite-as-little Kevin gets stranded in New York City after he takes the wrong airplane during another family vacation. At this point, we have to wonder if a parenting license needs to be taken away from mom and dad, but ridiculous setups are the whole point of these films, so let’s not dwell too much here.

As with living on his own in the first movie, Kevin finds a great delight in going off on his own in the Big Apple. He becomes a tourist, checks in to a swanky hotel, makes friends with a bird lady who is swimming with avian diseases, and meets a future president:

Is it too soon for a “Make Home Alone Great Again” joke? Probably. I shall resist.

Sequels like this have to be delicately handled and walk a fine line between being too slavish to the original and too divergent. It’s here that Home Alone 2 does surprisingly well. Yes, the whole plot is more or less a retread of the 1990 film, but it has fun changing things up, what with the NYC overlay, a different threat (the Wet Bandits are trying to rip off a toy store), the weird “TalkBoy” product placement, and the glorious presence of Tim Curry as the insufferably snooty hotel manager.

So yes, there are tons of familiar beats, and that’s all on purpose, but it’s still pretty funny even so. Probably the only thing that doesn’t work well is the heavy-handed inclusion of the bird lady, who is there to promote a theme of “trust” or somesuch into the movie. But hey, get out of the way already, we just want to see Kevin go all MacGuyver on the Wet Bandits while John Williams blasts his amazing score at us.

I tend to judge sequels based on whether they add or detract from the overall series, and it’s here that I pronounce Home Alone 2 as a net positive — which is definitely not something I can say about the subsequent three movies.

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