Despite being a sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is a holiday classic. But there are many people who consider Home Alone (1990) to be a much better movie, which is really no surprise, as the same can be said about other franchises like Jurassic Park and Star Wars, whose originals are generally considered superior.
And while you might be thinking that those are multi-movie franchises, it’s all too easy to forget that Home Alone is no different! These days, it’s rare to find a series that has just two movies, but Home Alone used to be one of them, not unlike Ghostbusters and Gremlins. Now, it has five sequels!
This year, Disney churned out the straight-to-streaming service Home Sweet Home Alone, which is the sixth installment in the series. But perhaps with the exception of Home Alone 3 (1997), which really isn’t all that bad, the later sequels are pretty forgettable!
It’s also rare to find a sequel that’s better than its predecessor, but in the case of Home Alone, we believe that Kevin McCallister’s second outing tops the original. That’s right – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is the best! Evidence to support this claim? You got it!
7. Huge Setting
The original Home Alone is a great movie, and it’s a lot of fun to watch Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin) try to survive the holiday season on his own, whether it’s being scared by the boiler in the basement, or going to the grocery store and having his bags rip open on the way home. But there’s no argument that New York City is a much better setting.
There’s nothing wrong with the Chicago suburb of the original, or the McCallisters’ enormous house (which you can now buy in LEGO form!), but watching Kevin end up in New York City doesn’t just raise the stakes, it also makes for a more Christmas-sy affair. And if you’ve been to the Big Apple during the holidays, you’ll know that it pulls out all the stops!
And there are other great settings in the movie too. There’s the charming toy store Duncan’s Toy Chest, which looks like a Christmas dream come true, or The Plaza, the lavish hotel Kevin checks into where we meet a couple of villains (of sorts) in the form of hotel clerk Mr. Hector (Tim Curry) and bellboy Cedric (Rob Schneider), two of the film’s best characters.
6. Heartfelt Story
We get that, like many sequels, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York follows the same beats of the original while switching things around from the setting to the way Kevin gets abandoned by his family. But the story is still different enough to stand on its own, and there are many things that separate the film from its predecessor on an emotional level too.
During his time in New York City, Kevin learns that his former foes Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) – formerly the ‘Wet Bandits’, now the ‘Sticky Bandits’ – plan to rob all the money from Duncan’s Toy Chest’s cash register on Christmas Eve. To make matters even worse, the money is meant for the local children’s hospital!
This time, however, while he is initially pursued by the pair throughout the streets of New York City, Kevin chooses to put himself in the path of the Bandits so that he can save the children’s hospital. And it’s this element of the plot that really lends to the film – not only does it show that Kevin really is a hero, it also brings with it some high stakes.
5. Festive Score
Renowned composer John Williams is known for creating some musical masterpieces for movies such as Jurassic Park, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. However, many forget that he also wrote and composed the score for the first two Home Alone movies. But it’s his work on the 1992 sequel that really separates it from the original film.
There are two truly beautiful songs that play throughout Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which are titled “Christmas Star” and “Somewhere in My Memory”. They’re soft, festive, atmospheric, and are the kind of tracks you could play all day on repeat over the holidays without getting even remotely bored!
It’s true that music can make or break a movie, and like many of the great classics we’ve mentioned, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York has a solid soundtrack. If there’s anything in this film that’s going to make you feel like you’re sitting in front of a roaring fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, it’s going to be John Williams’ score.
4. Action Sequences
There are some great sequences in the first Home Alone, but they’re mostly limited to the third act’s iconic series of traps. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, however, is filled with all sorts of entertaining sequences from start to finish, which means that we don’t need to wait until the third act for the action to begin.
Putting the sequel’s own series of traps aside – which takes place in a building owned by Kevin’s uncle that’s currently undergoing some serious renovation work – there’s plenty of other action to enjoy. And these additional sequences stop the film from feeling like its entertainment is hinged entirely upon watching Harry and Marv get their much-deserved comeuppance.
There’s a sequence in which the crooks chase Kevin through the streets of New York City, and the moment when Kevin is discovered to be a fraudulent Guest at the hotel. But our favorites have to be the ‘see saw’ trap that’s laid out for Harry and Marv when they’re robbing Duncan’s Toy Chest, and the showdown in Central Park involving birdseed, pigeons, and fireworks!
3. More Comedy
Besides being Christmas movies, Home Alone is a comedy franchise, so not only must each installment deliver on the festivities, they also need to provide plenty of belly-laughs along the way too. The original Home Alone is hilarious, but we think Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is even funnier, and we’ve got plenty of examples to prove this is the case!
One of the funniest characters in the movie is Tim Curry’s hotel clerk Mr. Hector. He’s got the perfect Grinch smile, and his obsession to prove that Kevin isn’t who he appears to be is hilarious. From the moment Mr. Hector loses Kevin when he escapes by elevator, to the staff’s ‘confrontation’ with Angels With Even Filthier Souls, Curry delivers comedy genius in spades!
Even the traps are funnier, with Marv providing some of the most laugh-out-loud reactions. There’s his casual “uh-oh” when a large bag of flour lands on him, and his ridiculously high-pitch screams, whether he’s sliding across an oily basement floor or being attacked by a flock of pigeons in Central Park!
2. Hilarious Characters
The original Home Alone has no shortage of great characters – there’s Kevin, Harry, Marv, Uncle Frank (Gerry Bamman), and friendly old man Marley next door (Roberts Scott Blossom). But as it’s set in the Big Apple, to no surprise, the sequel has even more characters, each of whom is at the top of their game where comedy is concerned.
We’ve already established that we love the staff at The Plaza (yes, we love you!), but we’ve not talked about the Central Park inhabitant known only as ‘Pigeon Lady’ (Brenda Fricker). While she is of course the movie’s answer to old man Marley, she’s still a strong character who has some heartwarming moments with Kevin throughout the film.
Others we love include toy store owner Duncan (Eddie Bracken), who gives Kevin two turtle dove ornaments that no Christmas tree is complete without, and even Kevin’s parents Kate (Catherine O’Hara) and Peter (John Heard) get a bit more screen time this time around. But the less said about the Donald Trump cameo, the better!
1. Better Traps
The trap scenes are, without argument, the signature Home Alone experience (besides a kid being left home alone, of course). We don’t think they’re deal-breakers, but they usually serve as an extra sprinkling of comedy entertainment on top of what should already be a solid movie and one that can work just as well without them.
This point, however, comes as a bit of a double-edged sword, because while the traps in this film are a lot better, we do feel like the movie slows down, or even ‘stops’, for this entire sequence of pure slapstick comedy. Perhaps Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is simply so good that it doesn’t necessarily need them.
Nevertheless, the traps have made our number one spot for a reason, and that reason is that they’re a lot crazier this time around! In fact, we’re not sure even Tom and Jerry would survive half the things that Kevin prepares for Harry and Marv! It’s also great watching the pair get tortured after stealing money that belongs to an children’s hospital!
Do you think Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is better than the original?