When Home Alone was released in 1990 and grossed more than $470 million at the worldwide box office, a sequel was inevitable due to Hollywood’s habitual business mindset. The reality, though, is that 1992’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York merely comes across as an unoriginal, ridiculous, almost superfluous cash-in on the success of its predecessor. It rehashes practically everything from the first film, and thus creativity is at an all-time low. With that said, though, it’s pretty easy to see why Home Alone 2 appeals to kids (including this reviewer, who loved it as a sprog). It may not retain much of the magic of the original film, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable and often hilarious instance of Christmastime entertainment.

Once again, the film is set at Christmas, and the extended McCallister family are planning a vacation to Miami, Florida. Unfortunately, prior to the trip, young Kevin McCallister (Culkin) gets himself into trouble and has a fight with his brother. During the shuffle at the airport the following morning, Kevin boards the wrong plane and finds himself all alone in New York City. Yet, Kevin finds this to be a godsend. Before you can say “child neglect”, Kevin scams his way into getting a luxurious suite at an expensive hotel while his family collectively frets in Florida. Little does Kevin realise that robbers Harry (Pesci) and Marv (Stern) – the “Wet Bandits” – have busted out of prison after being arrested at the end of the first film, and have made their way to the Big Apple to rob a large toy store. After a chance encounter with the burglars (the whole plot is built on happenstance, by the way), Kevin decides to save the targeted toy store and give the criminals a night they’ll never forget using a bunch of his trademark booby traps.

At a mammoth 120 minutes, Home Alone 2 was padded to breaking point with recycled jokes, saccharine Christmas-spirit references, and even a bit of product placement. Not to mention, there are a lot of hard-to-swallow contrivances throughout the narrative. On top of the fact that Kevin ends up alone again (the permutations involved in how this happens are beyond unbelievable), Kevin also meets the same two burglars from the first movie in the dense expanse of NYC when they both go to the same toy store on the same day at the same time. Also unbelievable is the fact that the 10-year-old Kevin takes charge and ingeniously tricks adults in one of the world’s largest cities. Then again, this is a film in which a bloke quickly recovers after being hit in the face with four bricks tossed from the roof of a three-story building. Needless to say, the implausibility pill is hard to swallow.

The death of John Hughes in 2009 was tragic. During his career, he was responsible for several timeless classics, including Ferris Bueller’s Day OffThe Breakfast Club, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. However, Home Alone 2 is nowhere near the quality that Hughes is typically known for – the writer’s creativity was running on empty here. Practically everything that occurs in the original Home Alone also happens in this sequel, from Kevin’s family watching a foreign-dubbed version of It’s a Wonderful Life to a misunderstood stranger whom Kevin befriends. Admittedly, however, the different scenery is a welcome change of pace, and the jokes are at least clever enough to garner a few guffaws. Of course, the script eventually puts Kevin in a position to thwart the burglars, leading to a prolonged climax in the same vein as the original film. All of the Three Stooges-style antics which take place at the film’s climax are far more brutal and extreme than anything seen in the first Home Alone – a lot of the stuff here should have killed Harry and Marv, or led to serious injury worthy of hospitalisation. Of course, none of this critical examination matters if you only care about the slapstick sight gags and a Looney Tunes level of insanity. To be certain, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout the movie to keep one entertained.

Amidst the cartoon violence, Macaulay Culkin’s childhood charm still carries the film. As with the original movie, Culkin is a convincing star with a likeable screen presence. Meanwhile, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are highly entertaining as Harry and Marv, even if they solely exist to be human crash test dummies in the film. Pesci is particularly amusing while he mumbles family-friendly PG curses. And Stern – with wild-eyed, maniacal glee – is a hilarious imbecile who deserves his own hour-long episode of World’s Dumbest Criminals. A host of supporting players are also present in the movie. Where the late great John Candy made a wonderful cameo appearance in the first film, Donald Trump and Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club) briefly appear here. Additionally, Tim Curry is amusing as the concierge at the New York hotel, while Rob Schneider also appears as a bellboy. Rounding out the cast is Brenda Fricker who’s a standout as a mysterious pigeon lady, while Catherine O’Hara and John Heard are both believable as Kevin’s parents.

At the end of the day, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is an adequate sequel which provides a few hearty laughs, and it will pleasantly pass a couple of hours. Admittedly, though, it’s not nearly as special, creative or well-crafted as the original. I guess this is the type of sequel that’s made when the original film was nothing deep or profound. The producers were perhaps at a loss as to what made Home Alone such a phenomenal success, so no box was left unchecked in trying to recapture the magic and essence of the original film. Fortunately for the producers, Home Alone 2 earned big bucks at the box office, and – unfortunately for us – this led to Home Alone 3 in 1997.

6.2/10