Catherine O’Hara screaming “Kevin!” will never get old.
Did you know that following Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), there are THREE other sequels to the original Home Alone (1990)? By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. One of those assumably terrible sequels even goes as far as to recast Kevin entirely! Oh, and how could I forget about the modern-day remake that’s coming to Disney+? While I have no interest whatsoever in sitting through the Macaulay Culkin-less sequels or the upcoming remake, the second movie in the series is one sequel that I always appreciate revisiting each December. Despite being almost a carbon copy of the original movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York never quite reaches the heights of its predecessor, but still manages to be an enjoyably good time. Also, fuck yes to Tim Curry.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York follows 10-year-old Kevin McCallister as he is once again mistakenly separated from his family during the Christmas holidays. Finding himself lost and alone in New York City, Kevin makes the best of the situation and checks into the Plaza Hotel, spending a fortune on a luxury suite, room service, and seeing the sights. Eventually he runs into Harry and Marv, the criminals whose plans he spoiled last Christmas, and must once again plan an elaborate trap to stop them from robbing a toy story that has raised money for a children’s hospital.
So, elephant in the room, but let’s state facts: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is LITERALLY the exact same movie as Home Alone. Sure, there are slight, microscopic differences, but for the most part, the sequel recycles the same characters, events, and jokes that we saw in the original. We get Kevin befriending a stranger again, using an old movie to scare away prying adults, using silhouettes to convince adults he’s not on his own, and of course, torturing Harry and Marv to the point where they should really be dead by now. Is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York a shameless rehash of everything fans loved about the original movie? Absolutely. But you know what? I’m not mad about it in the slightest. Kevin’s adventure was so much fun the first time around that I’m pretty sure anyone tuning in for the sequel is more than on board to watch him go through it again. This may not be a sequel that’s AS good as the original, but it’s more than enjoyable and it’s certainly not, “oh God, why was this made?” level of bad. Y’know, sequels like, Son of the Mask (2005) or Grown Ups 2 (2013). I still can’t believe there was a time I was so convinced that I liked Grown Ups (2010) so much that I willingly paid to see the sequel in theatres. What was I thinking?
Though using the same basic framework as the first movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York wisely ups the stakes and shakes things up by having Kevin getting abandoned in a completely new city without any of the familiarities of home to fall back on. The change of setting forces Kevin to have to use his wits and ingenuity to secure shelter, food, and of course, supplies to beat Harry and Marv within an inch of their lives. Upping the stakes and forcing Kevin even further out of his comfort zone develops him as a protagonist and is a cleverly subtle way to give this familiar story a fresh coat of paint. Also, this time around the story moves much faster than the first movie. I had no idea the entire movie pretty much takes place over the course of two days!
Even though you can obviously predict exactly how Kevin’s NYC adventure is going to turn out, it doesn’t stop you from being totally on board for all the fun and whimsy that it brings. Of course, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a kid’s movie from the 1990s so it’s inherently filled with pure childlike magic and wish fulfillment. I mean, could you imagine being 10-years-old and not only exploring one of the greatest cities in the world, but also staying in a five-star-hotel with a huge suite to yourself, having pizza and ice cream for dinner, riding around in a limo, and visiting a giant toy store? Yes to all of this!
Part of what makes Home Alone 2: Lost in New York work is the return of the entire original cast. Each one delivers as memorable a performance as they did the first time around, and equally as likeable. Macaulay Culkin as Kevin is as endearing and charming as ever, and Catherine O’Hara as Mrs. McCallister is no duh, a delight in every sense of the word. She’s so effortlessly hilarious and even when she’s reading the simplest of lines it manages to put an enormous smile on my face. It’s madness that she gets second billing after John Heard. When it comes to Kevin’s parents, it’s O’Hara who does the comedic heavy lifting! Speaking of comedic heavy lifting, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as Harry and Marv are as wonderfully wacky as ever. Both have such phenomenal delivery and the physical comedy they’re able to pull off is sensational. That being said, while bad guys falling down and getting hit in the groin will never not be funny, I did find myself laughing a little less at their antics than I did in Home Alone. Still, it can’t be said enough how well Pesci and Stern play off each other as frustrated leader and clueless lackey. The pair are like a couple of cartoon characters come to life.
So, can we talk about Tim Curry? I love him so much. His role as the concierge of the Plaza is essentially a much snottier, more cruel and antagonistic version of his character from Clue (1985), so it’s no wonder why the role was such a natural for him. Curry absolutely kills me. Yes, he’s a gifted performer, but even just his eyes and voice are enough to keep me entertained for hours. Doing so much with so little, watching Curry roll his eyes or deliver cutting lines in his instantly recognizable deadpan tone will never cease to keep me laughing. Casting him was the smartest decision director Chris Columbus could have possibly made. Y’know, except for giving O’Hara more screentime.
If given a choice between the two, I’ll probably always end up choosing Home Alone over Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Still, this is a fun sequel that’s sure to put a smile on your face this holiday season. Hmmm, I reviewed Home Alone last Christmas and did the sequel this year…oh man, does that mean that next year I have to review Home Alone 3 (1997)?
Are you a fan of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!