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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Retro Review: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Tim Curry, Brenda Fricker, Catherine O' Hara
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $359 million 

Plot: One year after Kevin was left home alone & had to defeat a pair of bumbling burglars, he accidentally finds himself in New York City, & the same criminals are not far behind

'A Cash-Grab Sequel That Is Not So Much 'Lost', But Virtually The Same Movie As The Last'

12-year-old Kevin McCallister is less cute and endearing, but he seems to be a tad more aware of his surroundings and the people he surrounds himself with and still, he takes on the bad guys, outsmarts them and wins. Home Alone 2: Lost In New York turns out to be a follow-up made by people, who should have known better and should have made more of an effort, instead of being just a predictable and overly formulaic sequel. Which this offering is.

Released two years after the massive success of 1990's Home Alone and with more hype and commercial tie-ins and a bigger budget than ever before, the one thing Home Alone 2 lacks is charm, and charm aplenty. For the second time in 2 years, Kevin's parents lose their younger son, whilst on holiday. Now as this is a fictional comedy, this is not that big of a deal, but of course, in real-life, this would alert social services/child protection services and the parents would be questioned, and possibly arrested and charged with neglect. Who forgets their child, 2 years in a row? 

Most of the magic and essence of the prequel is all but lost and the execution is too identical and lacklustre that it doesn't really attempt to make strides in making it more entertaining, never mind watchable. The other flaw with this movie is when it touches on the emotional arc and with the characters, it's like nothing has changed and they have learnt absolutely nothing from the first movie and it is all back to square one again. 

But for some of the scenes where Kevin converses with the bird woman and hotel staff, there is very little else in this film that truly makes it worthwhile. Watching this movie, all I could think of is how this is virtually the same as the last Home Alone movie and that it is a clone and a lazy rehash effort on the part of Chris Columbus and John Hughes, although luckily and thankfully for Columbus he went one better with Mrs Doubtfire, one year after this movie & but for some issues, the Robin Williams comedy was and is far better than Home Alone 2. The late Hughes, on the other hand, went downhill, ever since this movie and with this effort, not only does he play things far too safe, the whole thing feels lethargic.

The tropes of the first movie are rehashed: using a voice recorder to fool the adults, watching TV and recording the voices to fool the adults, Kevin annoying and peeing off his parents and in them getting annoyed with him, Kevin losing his family & doing things by himself, the weirdo stranger who turns out to be a good guy and helps Kevin out in defeating the wet bandits. The wet bandits being even dumber and more accident-prone. This set-up is incredibly long and overdrawn and the repetition and overreliance of recycling the same gags, emotional beats means it gets old, quickly. & when it gets old as it does, the chase becomes much less fun, as it is. The slapstick humour didn't work for me, as it was either too similar to the first movie or it just wasn't original and funny enough. 

Rather than be unique and go to lengths to make it invigorating and fresh, Home Alone 2 makes the mistake of just relying on what worked from the first film and to regurgitate & elaborate on those ideas. But still, that is just not enough. It certainly wasn't enough for me; I wanted more, I expected more but I also expected a lot of different things, ideas that haven't been and weren't explored in the prequel. Yet the writer, John Hughes and Columbus dropped the ball. 

So in Home Alone 2, Kevin gets lost and finds himself in familiar territory, loses his family, the wet bandits are out of jail. And yet, instead of defending his home from burglars, Kevin sets traps as and often as he likes, with little concern or regard towards their welfare and goes out to hurt those who he fears. Culkin reprised his famous role, and yet, unfortunately, Chris Columbus and the writers approached the Kevin McCalister character with barely any new & fresh ideas. It's as if they didn't care enough to make a difference to that character, one bit. 

The first Home Alone was a huge hit and many of those ideas worked because they weren't attempted before; that and the heartwarming & poignant moments felt genuine and less artificial and forced. Home Alone 2 feels uninspired, makes little to no effort in carving out a truly worthwhile sequel that not only lives up to the original but is different in many respects, and instead, is harboured with a formula that is tediously repetitive. 

Even with the sight of watching Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern getting injured and hurt by the booby traps being a tad amusing, that, for me, isn't enough to salvage what is, in fact, a clone of the first Home Alone movie that is too much alike and far less, if not so much less enjoyable and entertaining.

Final Verdict:

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is like a burger you see in adverts for McDonald's, KFC, Burger King: it looks the same, it looks appetising & yet when you dive right into it, it isn't all that great, to be honest. It just doesn't offer much that is different that makes it great and worthwhile.

Redundant, derivative & relies too much on rehashing and relying on previous ideas of Home Alone, Home Alone 2, in more ways than one, has outstayed its welcome & mainly exists as a cash-grab and thus, in doing so, it is far less enjoyable.


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