After leaving their son Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) behind the previous Christmas, the McCallister family are determined to make sure that he comes on holiday with them this time. They all make it to the airport, but being in a hurry, they are split up and Kevin follows a different man with a very similar coat to that of his father.
The McCallisters head for Paris and Kevin finds himself in big bad New York, where the Wet Bandits (now renamed the Sticky Bandits) are on the loose, having escaped from prison. They have set their sights on a big toy store, which is holding a load of cash ready for a donation to a local orphanage. Can Kevin stop them, keep himself safe and inflict yet more damage on the increasingly injured and hapless Harry and Marv?
“Like before, only more so” would tend to be the watch-word for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Kevin finds himself all alone in the Big Apple and after a brief stay at a lovely hotel (courtesy of his father’s credit card), he bumps into Harry and Marv and lures them to the townhouse of a relative, who is away while renovations are carried out, leaving loads of building materials to hand and even more in the way of opportunities for face-smashing action.
In all honesty, if it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it. Yes, it is a little implausible that Kevin, Marv and Harry would all find themselves in the same place, with a conveniently placed house for a final showdown, but this was never supposed to be Ken Loach. This is Home Alone 2. Macaulay Culkin has grown up a little, but the set-up and relationships with his family and the Sticky Bandits still work just fine. He is still just as inventive, still making erroneous assumptions about kindly but slightly off-beat elderly strangers and still very good at booby trapping houses for maximum carnage. Harry and Marv are of course far too stupid to be real, but they were never intended to be convincing portrayals of criminals, rather they are there to suffer and suffer they do.
Let’s consider the roll-call of pain:-
- Slipping on beads on the sidewalk
- Bricks to the face
- A bag of cement to the head
- Slipping on a load of paint, into a shelf of paint
- Electrocution from an arc welder
- Slipping from a greased ladder
- Spanners and wrenches onto the head
- Head on fire
- Kerosene in the toilet
- Falling through a hole in the floor
- Steel bollard to the face
- Tool chest impact to the chest and face
- Burning rope
- Varnish – tarred and feathered
I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but you get the gist. It is genuinely laugh out loud funny, but as with the first film, this has the good sense to lace the mayhem with a story of protecting the money for the orphans and the lavish rewards that Kevin and his family enjoy in return at the hotel on Christmas morning. After all of the tomfoolery at the townhouse, Kevin being reunited with his mother in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza is genuinely touching and moving and brings matters to a warm conclusion just as the violence and destruction had reached fever pitch.
Culkin would never reach these heights again and neither would this franchise. Episodes 3 and 4 were desperately bad and sacrificed all of the charm of the first two. Partly that was down to the loss of all of the significant talent, partly down to lazy film-making. Thankfully, the reputations of the first two remain intact and rightly so. Enjoy being a kid again and laugh your socks off.