Bad Movies We Love: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Since I'm rational, Christmas puts me in the mood for nostalgia and cartoonish violence. Accordingly, I'm torqued to explore one of the sweetest and most carnage-laden celebrations of the yuletide, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Chris Columbus's unthinkably successful box office hit ($173,585,516 in the U.S. alone) reunites us with Kevin McCallister, pits him against bumbling baddies Harry and Marv, and even trots out an extra Oscar-winner for our ironic amusement. Did I mention that it's sometimes more violent than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Because I wouldn't be lying about that. I also wouldn't be lying when I say this is a totally stupid movie that should come standard with every American home.
Home Alone 2 is a simple story, but thank God, it's still an implausible one: Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) objects to his family's wish to spend Christmas in sunny, snow-free Florida, and they accidentally abandon him when boarding the plane. This is unusual, of course, because Kevin's family accidentally abandoned him in a previous movie called Home Alone. Through an airport mishap, Kevin ends up on a plane to New York, where he decides to use his parents' Visa at the Plaza Hotel and Duncan's Toy Chest. The idiotic burglar duo known as the Wet Bandits, who tried murdering little Kevin in the first movie, run into him on the streets and engage in another dance of booby trap choreography with him. It's senseless and garish and I'm feeling like Christmas already. Let's pick the movie's best five attributes and get down to unwrapping the Talkboy our moms bought for us.
5. Teach your lonely child to throw bricks at strangers.
I sincerely don't know Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) manage to be so fun in what's ultimately a braindead reimagining of Looney Tunes Acme wars, but Chris Columbus treats us to their stellar timing in the form of one humorously repetitive - and damn violent --slapstick bit. When Kevin stands atop his absent uncle's rickety house and tosses bricks at his evil captors, he's not just filling Wile E. Coyote's rocket-fueled shoes - he's making us cringe in our seats by bludgeoning real human beings with heavy bricks. It is gruesome! And worth one look and one giggle. Go for it.
4. My Left Foot is covered in pigeon shit.
If the presence of 1990 Best Supporting Actor Joe Pesci isn't enough to depress your Christmas spirit, allow Columbus to toss in 1989's Best Supporting Actress Brenda Fricker, who plays Kevin's new-found kooky, pigeon-feeding sage friend. She's a proxy for the freaky, helpful neighbor in the first film, and while that sort of lame scripting is acceptable, I'd prefer it not involve august actresses from great film dramas. But hey! She loves that Turtle Dove ornament Kevin got her! That's so quaintly homeless of her.
3. TIM CURRY NATION 'BUTLES' FORWARD!
I already toasted Tim Curry in my lengthy, gorgeous Clue tribute, but let's celebrate him again for his work as the befuddled, indignant employee at the Plaza Hotel. As expected, he suspects foul play when Kevin comes in expecting VIP treatment, and boy is he riled up about it! Probably riled enough to murder a bunch of houseguests and then explain why he murdered them, like in Clue. WADSWORTH 4 LIFE.
2. Another fantastic, child-ruining booby trap war
Home Alone 2 doesn't work too hard to outdo the flawless booby traps of the first feature, and it certainly doesn't mangle Harry and Marv in any novel way. But it does feature one hilarious sight gag that is so hammy and cheesy, you'd think it was a fine sandwich. As Marv electrocutes himself on one of Kevin's ingenious traps, he jiggles and convulses until the movie has to turn him into a skeleton. I would monologue contemptuously about this lame setup, but I am choking with laughter. Well played, Columbus.
1. What is it about Macaulay Culkin?
After all these years, it is still fascinating to watch tiny Macaulay Culkin traipse about an abandoned residence in little khakis, fool every adult on screen, and pump a fist in victory. He is just so damn smooth. And weird? Yes, weird. Whether he's spouting precocious one-liners ("Ma'am, my feet are hardly touching the ground. I'm barely able to look over the counter. How can I make a reservation for a hotel room? Think about it. A kid coming into a hotel, making a reservation? I don't think so.") or springing a series of unbelievably accurate paint can traps, Culkin is both a righteous kid hero and a worryingly surface child star. He's both cool and blank. For whatever reason, he's probably the biggest kid phenomenon of all time, and I can't imagine these movies starring anybody but him. (Sorry, Alex D. Linz.) He's super fun, super game, and he substantiates one of the most powerful sentiments in modern cinema: Grownups is stupid. Think about that fondly as you celebrate the yuletide this year with your fellow in-spirit Toys R Us kids.
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