PG, because times were simpler then. You could have horrible language, talk about perverts, have a fundamental misreading of a person's sexuality, and torture people and still get a PG rating. Again, this is all about target audience and the target audience was 10-year-olds. So PG makes sense. I mean, I showed this to my kids, so keep that in mind. PG.
DIRECTOR: Chris Columbus
Here's a fun fact: I accidentally watch a lot of Chris Columbus movies. It's not like I plan it. It's just that a lot of family movies are directed by Chris Columbus. Thus, I watch a lot of his movies. In the last week, we watched all the Home Alone movies that had a cinematic release. I'm really trying to put the kibosh on the ones that went straight to TV or DVD. I know we can get our hands on Part 5, which is on HBO Max. But as of right now, I'm going to try to steer away from those movies as much as I can. I thought I was going to write the most scathing blog about Home Alone 2 until I watched Home Alone 3, which may be the most unwatchable movie that I've seen this year. So even though I'm going to dunk on Home Alone 2, realize that I'm soon going to be writing about the third entry in the franchise.
Part of me wants to lay into the fact that this is the Donald Trump movie. It's out there on the internet, but Donald Trump has another weird rule: If you want to film on a Trump property, Donald Trump has a right to be in the movie. Most of the time he's cut. His scene got a laugh. Whatever. He's a monster and his atrocities have made me politically active. But I can't watch his scene without thinking of the dubbed audio that is placed over this text.
Okay, I got that out of my system. Home Alone 2 is what I will from hereby referring to as a "cash grab movie". The first Home Alone destroyed. It absolutely crushed. Kids movies tend to do well because kids have low standards and everyone can go see it. As good as R-rated movies are, they tend not to do as well (unless you are Deadpool). But Home Alone hit next level. I remember seeing that first one in the theaters half a dozen times or something. I think that was something that kids did: saw movies multiple times in theaters. It was the disposable income / our parents paid for everything. When it came out on VHS, I watched that tape over and over again. It's one of those movies. I bet that the studio knew that they had something special on their hands, but I don't think they could have predicted it would have been THAT special. So, of course, there needed to be a Home Alone 2.
But because it was entirely a cash grab, Home Alone 2 borderline became the same movie. Now, I know this takes place in New York. Yup, I get the title. You need to up the stakes somehow. Okay. But Home Alone 2 is, beat-for-beat, the same movie as the first film. Like, it might be the most carbon copy sequel I've ever seen. Nothing was learned from the first movie. I'm sure no one wanted to take any risks because they knew that they had magic from the first movie and that they were going to repeat that magic. Kevin has unlearned all of his temper things. His family is heavy handed with Kevin once again. They even acknowledge that this can't happen twice and that they're going to keep extra special attention on Kevin. They certainly drop that ball. Harry and Marv, against all odds, are back and in the same city as Kevin. (New York is really big, guys.) Kevin forgets that people are just people, no matter how sad they look. Angels with Filthy Wings is back, only in sequel form. Honest-to-Pete, he even finds a house that he can booby trap. There's nothing new here. There is absolutely nothing new to glean. Kevin learns the exact same lessons as last time. He takes on the same criminals as last time through torture. There is NOTHING new to gain from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Okay, there is something that is new. It's an accident and probably not the focus of the film. Kevin is an actually bad kid in the second movie. John Hughes didn't write him that way. Chris Columbus didn't direct him that way. But, in lieu of what happened in the first film, Kevin has way more culpability in this one. See, the first Home Alone was centered around the concept that Kevin thought that supernatural forces existed that were out there to teach him a lesson. Thinking that he made his parents disappear, he goes on this journey of maturity where he discovers that responsibility and rules are important and that real joy comes from the people around him. The dramatic irony is lifted at the end of the first movie and Kevin discovers that everything was a horrible mix-up. He learns is lesson that people are more important than good times. But Kevin knows this going into movie number two. In fact, Kevin gets to the airport. Because he didn't wake up to find people missing like the first time, Kevin is able to piece together what happened that separated him from his family. This is where Kevin's culpability really plays out.
Kevin wished that he could have a separate vacation away from his family. He figures out that he must have gotten on the wrong plane and makes a conscious decision to not reunite himself with his family. In the first film, he thought his family had been wiped out from existence. In the second film, he actually has the ability to be reunited with them in a reasonable fashion and chooses to not be reunited with them. Now, this is probably less evil than, say, actively choosing to sneak onto a plane to New York. But the longer he stays in New York, the more the choice to avoid confrontation with his family falls on him. With the first film, Kevin's Mom knows where he is and does everything in her power to return home as quickly as possible. But with the second film, Kevin's mom has no idea where Kevin is. He could be anywhere in the world. He literally could be dead. That's a real option for her. The fact that he didn't report himself to any ticket counter or report himself to any authority is haunting.
That means that Kevin's mom goes from "Oh geez, something could happen to him at home" to "I have no idea what the status of my child is. Worst case scenario: He's dead. Best case scenario: He doesn't want me in his life." That's a Christmas movie folks. And yet, Kevin proceeds to have the time of his life. When Kevin breaks things in the first movie, he lives in a world where Buzz and his family don't exist. When that shelf comes crashing down, it's because Kevin did the best that he could with the limited resources at his disposal. But in the second film, Kevin willfully and knowingly spends his father's money on junk food and a suite at the Plaza Hotel. That last line about Kevin spending almost a thousand dollars on room service is a genuine concern because Kevin showed such little disregard for the other people in the family that he deemed it fine to waste his father's money. In the first one, at least, he tried being financially responsible.
I don't know what it is about how Kevin treats the Wet Bandits versus the Sticky Bandits that bothers me so. The first film intentionally went out of its way to establish that the police were not going to be helping Kevin with his problems. There are all these attempts to get the police involved. I think I talked about that in the blog for the last film, but the police in Kevin's home town are negligent as can be. But Kevin encounters the Sticky Bandits against all odds, discovers their nefarious plan to rob a toy store and steal money from orphans. There's enough there for Kevin to maintain his independence and get these two guys arrested. Instead, Kevin wants to catch them in the act for some reason, which involves throwing a brick through this nice man's window. (I'm really not sure why Mr. Duncan is SO generous with his toys after this fact.) It seems like Kevin wants to torture these two guys. The first movie, it was about, in his mind, necessity. Kevin really steps out of his comfort zone to ensure that these two guys go through his torture maze.
Now, I know that MythBusters has proven that many of the death traps in the first movie would have killed Harry and Marv. But in my head, they were always these injuries that had an element of suspension of disbelief. Like, I could see guys maybe surviving the paint can thing, even though the MythBusters denied it. But the stuff in this one seem almost Jigsaw-like. The electrocution? I mean, as a joke, we see Marv's skeleton because he's electrocuted for so long. I think that Kevin even turns up the voltage because he wants Marv to suffer? Yeah, I laughed at the brick bit, but one of those bricks should have killed Marv. He takes four bricks consecutively to the head? Come on. That seems like Kevin wants to murder some dudes, not just convince them to leave his house alone. My wife doesn't like the injury stuff from the first movie. I do, but I might be on her side after part two. Part three is just a horrorshow.
But for all my complaints, I do have to give it the context of Home Alone 3. Even though every beat is the same. Even though the movie offers nothing new whatsoever, it is still super charming. Part of that comes from the cast and the fact that we like Kevin McCallister. He's a turd, but he's our turd. Similarly, a lot of the magic is captured in the second film. It's not as good, but it has a lot of things to kind of enjoy about the movie. But still, I don't want to watch the same movie twice. At the end of the day, I'll watch Home Alone 2, but I'll whine all the live-long day.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.