Directed By: Chris Columbus
Screenplay By: John Hughes
Based upon characters created by John Hughes
Produced By: John Hughes
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Tim Curry
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 119 minutes
Review Date: December 24, 2010
Prior to watching this movie for the umpteenth time, I felt somewhat incapable of properly reviewing this film because this (in addition to its prequel), Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Land Before Time are my favorite childhood films. Therefore, I felt I would be entirely biased towards this film and award it merit solely on the fact that it brought me joy in my yester years. Upon viewing it as an adult, I can safely say that I still absolutely love this film. It’s a silly, cute, and comical experience from start to finish, with only a few hiccups along the way. Some of these hiccups are greater than others, but I must note that these setbacks only became noticeable upon a critical viewing.
Once again, the Mcallister family (Catherine O’Hara and John Heard as parents, brilliant in their reprises) leaves Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) all alone during the holiday season. Kevin accidentally boards the wrong airplane, taking him to the vast metropolis of New York (if the title wasn’t obvious enough). Luckily, his air-headed parents entrusted Kevin with all the financial necessities so he has no problem renting a room at the Plaza Hotel. The concierge deskman at the hotel, headed by a comical Tim Curry, finds the boy very peculiar and takes it upon himself to investigate. Call him one of the new antagonists, if not as evil as the “Wet Bandits,” he’s at least as funny.
Concurrently, the “Wet Bandits” escape from jail and find themselves in New York. Per usual, the duo (Joe Pesci plays Harry and Daniel Stern plays Marv) are up to no good and they revel in delight when they discover that Kevin is once again alone and at their disposal. Essentially, the set up of the film is exactly the same as its predecessor but with different set pieces. Fortunately, John Hughes makes fantastic use of New York, creating a labyrinth of wonder and danger for Kevin to play in.
The film’s greatest faults probably lie with its familiarity to the original. It truly is the same film but in a larger “house,” complete with a bag lady (comparable to the shovel man from the first film), messages about family and holiday cheer, and even a slew of comedic traps for the bandits. I can understand why this could be problem for some, but for me, it was perfect. Why change what worked so well in the past? I absolutely loved the slapstick humor of Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern who are both brilliant in their roles. It’s one of those moments where, had it been cast differently, it wouldn’t have worked. Daniel Stern’s maniacal crooning when paired with Pesci’s pompous complaining is downright electrifying. This is not a term I would normally use for a film like this, but their chemistry just works.
I’d say my personal, most foremost complain would have to be with the use of the Talkboy. It’s funny, particularly in a famous shower scene, but as an adult I found it to be somewhat violating in its shameless advertising. It was quite obvious that this film was used as a marketing ploy for the toy. Hell, I bought one and I’m sure all my friends did too, so it’s sad now to realize that the producers of this film “cashed in,” if not entirely.
This was a film that the critics hated and I cannot understand why. At its core, it’s a story about how good trumps evil and that family values are sometimes more important than personal quests. Kevin must discover, for a second time, that being away from his foreboding family is actually worse than being with them. It’s a heartwarming tale that makes you happy about unconditional love and an inviting family.
Kyle Kogan is a film critic living in Chicago.