“Home Alone 2: Lost In New York” is a numb, scene-for-scene replication of its superior, charming predecessor, “Home Alone.” It is also the single most popular film in my household, thanks to the godforsaken menu design of streaming services and the cinematic palate of boys stuck indoors.
If you are not a parent, I imagine you give no thought to the existence of unprompted “You might also enjoy” screens. If you are a parent, you understand that flash of unsolicited, appealing images at small children is tantamount to terrorism.
After a standard viewing of the original “Home Alone” sometime in early December, my two sons discovered there was another “Home Alone” film. I would’ve never introduced this stupid-ass film to them, but parents — much like streaming platforms — yearn for inventory, especially in the ceaseless void of 2020 quarantine. So now they have their “Boondock Saints,” at least until they’re old enough to watch “Boondock Saints.”
Here is a piece of uncommissioned “Home Alone 2” fan art, created with supplies provided by Santa:
Every plot point of the original “Home Alone” is recreated in “Home Alone 2” The same mouthy rich kid gets in trouble before his entire huge family takes a stupid trip to a stupid, un-Christmasy location for Christmas. A quirk of electricity causes his parents’ alarm clock to fail, creating a panicked rush to the airport in which said boy is separated from his family. Yes: every single piece of plot in these films could be solved with a cell phone.
Based on conversations with my own sons, I can only assume director Chris Columbus, aware of how painfully iterative “Lost In New York” would be, conducted a focus group of six-year-old boys to sharpen the curb appeal of what is otherwise the exact same movie.
Me: “Why do you like ‘Home Alone 2’ more than the first one?”
Six-year-old boy: “Uh… it has pizza.”
Me: “So does the first one.”
Six-year-old: “He scares the bad guys with the gun movie.”
Me: “That also happens in the first one. Is it because of New York? Do you like New York City?”
Six-year-old: “Well… this one has a toy store, and in the one part, he hits the guy in the face. With the pipe. And then he sticks his head in a toilet!” [uncontrollable laughter]
Three-year-old: HIS HEAD IS ON FIRE IN A TOILET!
Me: Why do I foist PBS on you two?
After the set-up, “Lost In New York” follows the same steps as the first film, down to the minute: It’s a mash of childhood fantasies carried out under no supervision and funded by adult wealth (Kevin’s dad’s purloined wallet) and it all ends in wanton violence to low-level criminals, aided by an elderly person unrelated to the boy who nonetheless feels obligated to steer him through these follies.
Which is why Kevin McAllister is Pre-Millennial Batman.
Worse, he’s the Batman you’ve all been asking for, since y’all are so specifically sick of seeing Martha and Bruce Wayne catch lead in the opening of every Bat film. “Home Alone 2” eschews the parents’ deaths for an origin far more sinister: Rather than the nobility of being orphaned, Kevin McAllister is simply abandoned and unloved. (Fool me once, etc.)
Which is why he throws bricks at peoples’ heads from a rooftop for a full two minutes.
At any point in time, Kevin McAllister could simply use his wealth or privilege to contact the appropriate authorities about the burglars. Instead, he assumes an unearned status of authority and becomes a vigilante enforcer. Worse than Batman himself, McAllister has no declared moral code against the use of firearms (he’s actually proficient with them), instead voluntarily shifting towards archaic inventions that cause various forms of blunt force trauma, burns and stab wounds.
Why does he do this? To earn the attention of adults, specifically those too busy to perform the most basic of parental tasks and account for his physical location. If you struggle with the conceit of Batman’s origin or practice, I can understand that, but hey, at least Bruce Wayne witnessed a murder. Imagine the kind of asshole superhero who beats up strangers because his parents left him to go to France.