I guess I had to review a Christmas movie at some point...
You might be surprised to hear this but I actually have nothing against the first two Home Alone movies: they're charming, harmless, simple little Christmassy flicks and overall fun kids' movies. I loved them back in the day and I still find them somewhat enjoyable, albeit in a mostly nostalgic, soppy way.
This sequel is often accused of being a retread of the first film and, frankly, it is but it does enough things differently that it remains completely watchable and doesn't feel too heavy-handed. Macaulay Culkin's Kevin is unsurprisingly once again left to his own devices after taking the wrong plane following a misunderstanding at the airport. He is not left "home alone" this time as much as he his left... alone. He arrives in New York while his family enjoys a disappointingly rainy Christmas in Miami and, instead of freaking out like most kids would in this situation, he decides to start spending his dad's dough and live it up in the big city. He takes a cab, shows up at the fancy Plaza Hotel (you know it's fancy because Donald Trump hangs out there) where he manages to somehow make a reservation and rent a suite. And, seeing as this is a hotel which is run by the likes of Tim Curry, Dana Ivey and Rob Schneider, a bunch of goofy stuff happens there, as you can imagine. This is actually one of the most original parts of the movie since it doesn't involve the kid setting up traps for a couple of morons (not too much, anyway) though that does kinda happen eventually. It essentially replaces the house part of the first movie, though, so maybe it's not all that unique after all. In what is quite possibly the least convincing aspect of this whole movie, and that's saying a lot, it turns out that Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern's bad guys, Harry and Marv, have broken out of jail and, not only are they also in New York, but they keep bumping into Kevin in the streets. Talk about a coincidence! It's like being hit by lightning or something. Luckily, the dastardly slapstick duo get some of their most memorable ass-kickings in this movie and are always fun to watch bicker and complain so you won't mind accepting their unlikely presence too much.
You'll either be infuriated or charmed by Culkin's antics, depending on how you felt about the first film. Since these are definitely Christmas movies, you of course get a good bunch of schmaltz throughout each of them but those moments come in contrast with more mean-spirited jokes so this movie and its predecessor somehow manage to find the right balance. The creepy old guy from the first film is replaced by a pigeon-feeding lady (played by Brenda Fricker) who lives in Central Park. She's scary to Kevin at first but soon enough, you've guessed it, they get to talking and become best buds to the point where she even helps him fight off Harry and Marv. It's all incredibly predictable, obviously, and if you enjoyed the first movie ok but don't really feel like watching more of the same, then you might want to stay clear of this one. Otherwise, the film has enough Christmas spirit and is entertaining enough that kids and adults alike should have a ball sitting through this child-friendly American dream. This is the kind of movie that really works at that specific time of year and, although it's far from being necessary, it's made well enough and is full of enough energy that it doesn't fall into the trap of further sequels in that it doesn't... suck. John Hughes' script is still sharp for a kids' movie and includes a good handful of effective laughs for older viewers, plus John Williams' score is, once again, spot-on. The plot evolves (or devolves) into a straight-up repeat of the first movie where Kevin sets up traps for Pesci and Stern's villains, who were just about to rob a toy store, in some old house. It ends with the kid almost getting caught but being saved at the last second and his mother (um... spoilers?) finally finding him. All's well that ends well, though not so much for the "sticky bandits".
Alright, so this isn't exactly a unique piece of art but as a sequel to Home Alone, they could have done a lot worse and, unfortunately, they have! Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is a carbon copy of the first film except in a different setting and, although that makes the film less than original, it takes what we liked about the first outing and gives us that and more
Solid, if extremely familiar Christmassy sequel.