I reviewed the first ‘Home Alone’ film last Christmas so it’s probably a good time to do the sequel. At least I’m reviewing it at Christmas and not New Year. So, here we go.
Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) is a year older but still none the wiser as his antics against his big brother, Buzz (Devin Ratray) land him in trouble the night before the family is due to take a trip to Florida. The next morning, the family oversleep again but are keen not to forget Kevin. Kevin and the rest of the McCallister’s make it to the airport but after a touch of confusion, Kevin boards the wrong plan and finds himself in New York. Meanwhile, Harry and Marv have escaped from prison and have their plan ready to escape the country which involves stealing charity money from a toy store. Kevin formulates a plan to stop them and that involves placing booby traps all over his uncles partially renovated house. Rinse and repeat.
In you didn’t gleam from that last sentence, ‘Home Alone 2’ is a case of ‘same as the first but with a bigger budget’. Basically, the same stuff happens, just in New York.
Funnily enough, I watched the first film last week and I had never before noticed how many times the final act could have been avoided. All it would take was a call to the police. We’ll get into that later.
But first, something to mention is the vast number of stars wandering around this production. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern return as Harry and Marv as well as the rest of the McCallister clan but some newcomers to the cast are; Tim Curry as the Concierge and I don’t think he gets an actual name. He’s just referred to as the Concierge. Comedy actor, Rob Schneider appears young and thin as Bellman, Cedric. Veteran actress appears as the Desk Clerk and fellow veteran actor, Eddie Bracken appears as toy store owner, Mr. Duncan.
As mentioned above, this is a case of rinse and repeat so let’s make a list of things that are either deadly similar or just plain ‘copy and paste’.
Although the method was different, the family oversleeping because of the clocks resetting was the same, Kevin watching the film (Angels with Filthier Souls) whilst eating an absurd amount of ice cream and then using the same film to frighten/distract people was the same, there are characters in both films whom Kevin is afraid of but then learns are nice and this person helps in catching Harry and Marv at the end, the last gag of Kevin getting into trouble was similar and some of the traps are the same.
Let’s talk about the traps.
Again, this film carries on the trend of Harry and Marv exhibiting remarkable resilience against sustaining injuries and this film brings on the pain.
Once he’s holed himself up in the house that he’s rigged, one of the first things he does to Marv is throw bricks at him. I think that was a rejected line from Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’; how many bricks can a man take to the face before it causes a hemorrhage? The answer? More than four.
The same traps are Harry having his head set on fire and in a notable callback to the first film, the debacle on the stairs where they know that he’s going to throw paint cans and then the two are hit by some kind of bollard that by rights should be too heavy for a ten year old to lift up over his head. Also, the momentum of that really heavy bollard being dropped down the stairs and then straight down an easily 10-foot-deep hole should easily be enough to cause a fatal injury, if being electrocuted and consistently falling from great heights didn’t already do it.
Since this is a comedy, I still think the funniest trap was the electrocution. Daniel Stern was brilliant with his performance in that scene and one other person who agreed was Director, Chris Columbus. Apparently, Mr. Columbus was laughing so much during the filming of the electrocution scene that after Stern’s character collapsed, Mr. Columbus couldn’t say ‘cut’.
Are we ready for some controversy? I don’t care if no one likes it, it’s a fact of the movie that Donald Trump makes a cameo. Donald Trump owns the Plaza hotel where the crew filmed the relevant scenes and interestingly, the carpet in the lobby was removed so Macauley Culkin could slip and slide around. Mr. Trump liked it so much that he never had the carpet reinstalled after filming. So, there’s some trivia.
Whilst we’re on the topic of controversy, when Kevin arrives in New York, there is a montage of him seeing all the sites and this includes him travelling to the top of the World Trade Centre. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks that specific few shots were removed from future TV reruns out of respect for the victims but as of 2018, that sequence was put back in.
Of course, as with the last film, the entire final act could have been avoided. When Kevin is captured by Harry and Marv after he escapes the enraged staff at the Plaza, Kevin records Marv explaining the plan. Just so you’re all caught up, Kevin has taped evidence of a known and escaped convict planning to commit a crime, this includes time and place. All Kevin has to do is take this taped evidence to a Police station and that’s that. There is nothing stopping him from doing that. He would also have protection from the aforementioned criminals who have tried to kill him in the distant and also recent past.
But nope. There’s not even a scene of Kevin entering a police station and not being believed which would give him the necessary motivation to rig his uncles house. Kevin gains further evidence by taking pictures of Harry and Marv when they are in the process of taking the money and Kevin leaves these pictures as well as the taped confession for the police later when Harry and Marv are apprehended.
One suspects that the inclusion of the taped confession was put in because they’d already written in Kevin using the voice recorder in a few gags so the audience would question why he didn’t use it to tape Marv confessing their plans however, I think it’s detrimental to the story. I think it would have been better if the voice recorder wasn’t included in the film so there was no taped confession and Kevin went to the police, only for him to not be believed and then cut to him walking down the street and seeing the ill child in the window of the hospital which motivates him to take matters into his own hands. I think that would have been better because he still would have the pictures of Harry and Marv robbing the store for the police.
‘Home Alone 2’ did have a bigger budget of $28 Million from the first film which had a budget of $18 Million but one thing that was not inflated was the box office returns. It was by no means a ‘flop’. ‘Home Alone 2’ managed to bring in $359 Million which is bloody impressive with a budget of $28 Million but it just fell short of the takings received by ‘Home Alone’ which still stands as the move profitable film of the series with $476.7 Million.
Although it made $100 Million less than its predecessor, I don’t think it’s bad. It’s pretty much on par with the original because it’s essentially the same film.
The next film, ‘Home Alone 3’ took a brave step by having a whole new set of characters with the concept of a child defending his home from criminals with booby traps. For the record, I quite liked ‘Home Alone 3’ but no one else did.
I haven’t seen the fourth film which took an even bolder step by bringing back Kevin McCallister and the whole McCallister clan along with Marv but having everyone played by different actors. EVERYONE hated that film and probably rightly so, I can’t say for certain because as I say, I haven’t seen it.
Apparently, there have been more films, but I haven’t seen them. 1-3 is my limit.
There’s another Christmas review, what’s next? I know I’ve only done two films and today is the 12th of December. I really needed to get my shit together and my shit is all gathered now. Get yourself ready. Be prepared. Stay tuned.
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