Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Review
One year on from the events of the original Home Alone, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) once again finds himself in trouble as he boards the wrong flight and ends up in New York City as his extended family jet off to Miami to spend Christmas among the palm trees. Meanwhile, the Wet Bandits, Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern), have escaped from prison. As luck would have it, they too head for the Big Apple, where they prepare a heist on a large toy store in the hopes of running off with enough money to secure themselves a pair of fake passports so they can skip the country. They reckoned without Kevin, though, who predictably becomes aware of their plans and decides to thwart them using his trademark collection of booby-traps.
In many ways, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is the hardest of the trilogy to review, since while it fails to match the sheer fun of the original, it is nowhere near as bad as the obnoxious Home Alone 3. It is about as middle-of-the-road as you can get, and a lot of this stems from the extent to which writer/producer John Hughes plagiarizes his script for the original Home Alone. If Home Alone 2 had been the first installment, it would probably have been considered pretty good, but unfortunately this is not the case, and it must bear the shame of being a near total rip-off of its predecessor. About the only new material is the fact that the film is now set in New York rather than Chicago; every other element has an equivalent in the original that is either identical or an extremely close match. You want Buzz humiliating Kevin and Kevin getting the blame? You got it! The family sleeping in and having to rush to catch their flight? You got it! You want Kevin watching old gangster movies and using them to fool would-be intruders? You got that too! You want a mysterious older character who seems scary at first but actually turns out to have a heart of gold? You can even have that if you don't think you've had too much! The repetition extends to John Williams' score. Williams is often guilty of plagiarizing himself ad infinitum, but here he goes so far as to re-run many cues that are so similar to their counterparts in the original Home Alone that I would even go so far as to suspect that they are actually the same recordings. Home Alone 2 has so much in common with the original that it would virtually be possible to run the two films side by side and watching the same plot points occurring in tandem.
When all said and done, however, Home Alone 2 is a relatively good movie. It may be entirely predictable and it fails to deliver the pizzazz of the original, but there is nothing specifically wrong with it. Those who pick up a copy of this film are probably going to be wanting more of the same, and that is certainly what they will get. The change of location works quite well, adding a sense of grandeur to the proceedings, and the various traps that Kevin executes against Harry and Marv, some of which are cringe-inducing in the extreme, are as entertaining as ever. One of the few alterations to the plot, and one that succeeds in being a bonus to the sequel, is the fact that, this time round, the McCallisters have no idea where Kevin is. In the original, their excuse for not simply calling the police and having them go round to reassure Kevin was flimsy at best (they tried, but got no answer, so didn't bother trying again? I think not); here, they have no idea where he is, and when the authorities do finally manage to catch on to who he is and attempt to apprehend him, Kevin is understandably appalled to see the Plaza Hotel's none-too-subtle employees running after him screaming accusations of credit card fraud, so he makes a run for it.
A lot of the enjoyment comes from the performances of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, who positively relish their roles as Harry and Marv respectively and dutifully up the ante from the original. Harry is much more irate and Marv is even stupider than before, and this works in the film's favour. It's a good thing the villains are on top form, though, as Macaulay Culkin is fast becoming extremely irritating, with whatever limited charms he possessed in the first movie giving way to an annoying smugness that pervades even when he is trying to be sincere. Elsewhere, Tim Curry hams it up something rotten with his gleefully obnoxious concierge routine, and Brenda Fricker does what she can in the role of the Pigeon Lady, although to be honest it's a pretty thankless part, demonstrating none of the sincerity of Roberts Blossom's Old Man Marley in the original.
Presented anamorphically in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Home Alone 2 doesn't look anything special but is a big step up from the hideous transfer bestowed on Home Alone. The biggest is problem is the colour. There is an overly pink/blue tint throughout, with the actors looking a bit red-lipped and blues blooming in a decidedly turquoise manner. In comparison, the colours on my aged VHS copy look a lot more natural. There is also a good deal of colour bleed around outlines that should be solid. The image looks a little soft, but it's acceptable. There are no problems with the encoding.
A perfectly run-of-the-mill Dolby Surround audio track is provided: nothing special, but nothing wrong with it. Subtitles are provided in a multitude of languages.
As with Home Alone, trailers are included for all three films in the trilogy, and that's your lot in terms of bonus features.
Home Alone 2 is a step down from its predecessor, but that has more to do with the fact that it recycles the plot virtually verbatum as anything else. A reasonably enjoyable if undemanding comedy, it is presented here on a bare-bones but passable disc.