Christmas is a time for reflection on family, community, and the spirit of giving. Or, at least, we allow old movies to tackle those themes for us. Of all the holiday films that pass around on cable this time of year, Home Alone holds a particularly special place in many people’s hearts. John Hughes and Chris Columbus’s tale of a boy left behind while his family goes on vacation is a beautiful, heartfelt comedy that has stood the test of time as a true classic. But since the film was released, the conversation about Home Alone ignores a bold fact that the world must wake up to.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is a better movie than Home Alone.
It’s easy to see why critics couldn’t stand Lost In New York. The film is a beat-for-beat retelling of the first movie, repeating not just the core premise but most of the iconic gags from the original film. Kevin fools adults with dialogue from the same gangster movie, hits Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in the head with the same paint cans, and even befriends a mysterious old crone that terrified him at first sight, much like his intimidating neighbor in the first. But this doesn’t mean the film is worse than the original. In fact, all of these bits are every bit as charming and funny as on their first execution, often more so.
While the original Home Alone showcases the charms of the holidays in a small town, Lost In New York has the whole of NYC to play with. The Big Apple shines under snow and neon lights, and Columbus revels in every inch. It’s hard to compare a single home to the wide variety of hotels, toy stores, and NYC landmarks the second film utilizes.
The gags are done in a similar manner, but Lost In New York takes the scale up to 11. Cartoon violence has always been central to the franchise, which throws Pesci and Stern’s Wet Bandits through all manner of hell. But while the first film plays these moments with a certain level of realism, Lost In New York might as well star Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Stern’s character is hit in the skull with no less than half a dozen bricks, is electrocuted for nearly a minute, and falls several stories while engulfed in flame. Yet at the end, both bounce back to life before being whisked off to jail. Subtlety doesn’t have a place in slapstick, and Home Alone 2 understands that.
Lost In New York belongs to an odd breed of sequel, one almost more appropriate to a video game than a feature film. All of the talent was able to return to the table, learn from the past, and improve upon it in every way. Lost In New York is engineered to hit every note of the first – harder. In 1992, it might have looked unoriginal and predictable. In 2015, it’s simply the superior alternative.
Follow Chris Berg on Twitter @ChrisBerg25