Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Film Review | Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

Surprising precisely no-one after the incredible success of the original, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York was released just two years after Home Alone, swiftly cashing in on the unstoppable popularity of pint-sized star Macauley Culkin in the early '90s whilst showing a keen awareness that Culkin's "cute kid" appeal might only last a few more years.

Set a year after the events of Home Alone, the McCallister family are jetting off once again for the Christmas holidays, this time headed to the sunny climes of Florida. Whilst Kevin (Culkin) makes it to the airport this time, things still manage to go awry as he ends up on a plane heading to New York City. Once again, Kevin initially enjoys exploring the city without the constraints of his parents (Catherine O'Hara and John Heard) or siblings. That is until recently escaped convicts Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), whom Kevin helped put away last Christmas, cross paths with our young hero once again.

Home Alone 2 takes a great many of its cues from the first film, with the plot essentially following a similar path to that of Home Alone with the action transferred to New York instead of the McCallister family home. Whilst this is something that never bothered me as a child growing up watching these films, revisiting them as an adult it's a factor which does leave several moments throughout the film lacking in originality. That said, there is enough here to make sure this isn't merely the exact same film being rehashed, with the New York setting providing some memorable moments and settings.

The sequel also retains all the key players in the cast from the original and is all the better for it. Culkin is just as good here as he was in the first film, retaining the charm and mischievousness which made him a star. O'Hara and Heard are reliably strong, and Pesci and Stern too slip straight back into the roles they carved expertly in Home Alone. It's a shame that the script this time gives Harry and Marv a few scenes that are just too silly to be truly satisfying. New additions to the cast range from the welcome (Tim Curry) to the forgettable (Rob Schneider, in a career high).

When all is said and done, Home Alone is a film built on schmaltz and slapstick, and Home Alone 2 not only sticks to the same simple formula but decides to crank up both elements a few notches more. From Brenda Fricker's homeless woman who just doesn't want to get her heart broken again (whom Kevin of course not only befriends, but gives sage advice involving rollerblades about how to overcome her problem) to Eddie Bracken's orphan-loving toy shop owner, when Home Alone 2 turns on the sentimentality it occasionally comes close to excruciating. On the other side of things, the cartoon violence-fuelled finale surpasses that of the original, with the pratfalls and destruction reaching new levels of inventiveness.

Ultimately, Home Alone 2 ends up as the slightly inferior younger sibling of Home Alone. It's enjoyable enough with a strong cast, but falls down when things get too sappy or too familiar. As festive film offerings go, it's not quite the modern classic its predecessor has become, but it's certainly an entertaining slice of '90s nostalgia and much better than a lot of Christmas offerings out there.


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