December 7, 2014

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Chris Columbus, 1992
There is something different about revisiting films from your youth. Many of these revisits come around the holidays, when you can put up with that joke you've heard a hundred times. That comfortable predictability of a familiar premise. The Hughes’-penned Home Alone films certainly provide comfort. I remember being a kid and seeing this film in the theater in New York. I was 9 years old. I remember eagerly anticipating Kevin Mcallister's trap setting. I remember the movie going on and on and me sitting there thinking “when is it going to happen?”.. “Now? Now?”. And then it happened and I sat there in cathartic bliss.

Home Alone 2 builds upon the first film by of course recasting Culkin (which is absolutely critical to the franchise, the sequels after this do not exist). He’s grown a little older, but still has the innocence and charisma that he had in the prior picture. He’s the low kid on the totem pole. If he mouths back to his elder relatives, he gets put in the bed with bed-wetting cousin Fuller. The movie is very anti-authority, or at least pro-kid and pro-independence. It certainly spawned a whole generation of 90’s vicarious youth who were desperate to be put in similar circumstances. It puts a lot of faith into the kids of the world. Oddly enough, one of the antagonists is the hotel concierge played by Tim Curry. The concierge is immediately suspicious when he sees young Kevin walking confidently through the Plaza Hotel. He follows Kevin, explores the room, hoping to expose him as a little con artist or some kind of thief. But realistically, he’s not a bad guy. If it were real life he would probably have been praised for being so investigative. But the world of Home Alone isn’t real life. In real life, antagonists don’t get hit in the head with bricks from four stories and have a square imprint on their head. In real life, they have brain bleeding. But that’s the appealing element to the Home Alone movies. They are non-threatening, cartoonish, fun, nostalgic. They exist in a Hanna Barbara created universe where you can sustain serious injury only to be quite okay in the next scene. This film is good if only viewed as a time capsule. A preserved version of New York. A preserved style of 90's comedies. 

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