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Though Kevin McCallister once lost his family
When they left him home all alone,
He still cannot get along with all his siblings
And wishes to be on his own.
They leave on vacation with Kevin in tow,
But somehow he boards the wrong plane.
He ends up alone again, now in New York,
While both parents freak out in vain.
Since Kevin has credit cards, cash, and some sense,
He heads to the Plaza Hotel,
Intent on vacationing all by himself
With toys and room service as well.
But Harry and Marv, his escaped nemeses,
Are in town to rob a toy store
And plan to exact overdue sweet revenge,
Till Kevin evades them once more.
His stay at the Plaza Hotel is cut short
When Kevin is fingered for fraud
And flees to the dangerous big city streets,
Where one lady’s friendly, though odd.
Since Kevin knows Harry and Marv will be stealing
The toy money meant for the sick,
He transforms his uncle’s abandoned apartment
Into a funhouse (and quick).
By baiting the crooks to his booby-trapped lair,
He punishes them once again.
From bricks to tool boxes to minor explosions,
He grants them more lessons in pain.
When they almost have him, he’s saved from behind,
And prison awaits the two still.
Since Kevin is tired of being alone,
His mom helps that wish to fulfill,
And everyone has an enjoyable Christmas…
Until Kevin’s dad gets the bill.

Here we have the sequel to everyone’s favorite holiday torture fest, and, unlike the three other less-than-official sequels (which obviously had lower aims), Home Alone 2 was actually trying to match its predecessor. It doesn’t quite manage that feat, but it is still an entertaining return of all the original characters, including Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, and the dimwitted duo of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. In many ways, the film follows the same beats as the first—a big family debacle turns Kevin against them, a hectic vacation rush leaves him behind, and Kevin lives it up by himself before tormenting two crooks in his own personal house of persecution. The characters themselves often realize the similarity of their circumstances, and, as Ian Malcolm said in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, they don’t make the same mistakes, but all new ones.

On the one hand, the recycled scene with the gangster movie is even funnier than the first film’s, and the events leading up to Kevin’s separation are much more plausible than the series of coincidences that left him alone in the first film, though no less irresponsible on the part of the parents. (It’s a good thing Kevin didn’t want to run away because if it’s this easy for him to evade his parents by accident, they would probably never find him if he didn’t want to be found.) The film ups the ante in several regards, including the potential danger of Kevin’s situation, the extravagance of his version of “the good life,” and the agony inflicted on Marv and Harry, who should have died many times over from his booby traps.

Yet, despite a moderately heartwarming subplot involving a pigeon lady in Central Park, Home Alone 2 lacks the heart and the Christian iconography of the first one. The bird lady’s fine and Tim Curry is hilarious as an ingratiating hotel concierge, but I missed the misunderstood Old Man Marley and John Candy the polka king. Also, the first film indicated that Kevin thought his family disappeared because his wish came true, but here he is fully aware of what happened and where his family probably is but makes no attempt to contact them, choosing instead to take advantage of his father’s credit card. Plus, the tortures he prepares for Marv and Harry elicit more severe winces, even if the two despicable thieves deserve it.

All this is to say that I prefer the first Home Alone, but the second is still a Christmas favorite that I can watch over and over. My VC would have this one much lower on her list, but Home Alone 2 is still good, painful fun.

Best line: (Mrs. McCallister, when she learns Kevin left the hotel) “What kind of idiots do you have working here?”  (the hotel’s desk clerk, proudly) “The finest in New York.”

Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 5
Watchability: 10
Other (slapstick ingenuity): +3
TOTAL: 49 out of 60

Next: #134 – Rocky

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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