Saturday, December 14, 2013

Home Alone 2 is My Favorite Holiday Movie

     Home Alone 2 is my favorite holiday movie.  I liked Home Alone when it came out circa 1990, and I thought when Home Alone 2 came out a few years, it could not possibly be as funny.  But it is, and even better, despite having the same plot and the same major characters.  
    To me the key is that Home Alone 2 was meticulously thought out, and even the most minor of characters was interesting and funny.   We can start out with the McCallister family, shown below on Christmas morning.

The McCalisters are a wacky American family.  I recognized a few of my family members in there, and I'll bet you did too!

I think Buzz was greatly played.  That would be the oafish kid in the back there, nearly as tall as weird Uncle Frank.   To me, he was the consummate big brother, who seems to make decisions for the entire family and never getting in trouble despite evil behavior that ranks up there with Hitler and Stalin.     
Kevin's mom Kate was on the one hand hilariously played by Molly Ringwald, but she was  also a very sympathetic character, terribly frightened and worried for her little lost boy, alone in New York.  Who could not identify with this great Mom?

Kate McCallister discovers Kevin is missing Again!!  Oh no!!!

Peter McCallister is the calm and collected straight man for the more hysterical Kate.  Don't worry, dear, we'll get him back!

   I also like Kevin's cousin (played by his real life brother, Kieran Culkin).   He captures the joy of Christmas morning.  Doesn't it seem like the youngest child is always the first one awake on Christmas morning?

"Are you nuts?!  Santa's Omnipresent!"

    Who could not love characters such as the opera-loving Bird Lady?  Or Mr. Duncan, the philanthropic toy store owner who loves to support the Children's Hospital?

The bird lady loved opera.  She also steps up to help a young boy when he gets into trouble, putting herself at great risk. 

Mr. Duncan has all the money he needs, but continues to do what he loves in order to support the Children's Hospital, a great cause.  I know real people who do things like that. 

I also admit to having a bit of a thing for the Model, an unnamed but gorgeous blonde, who encounters the bad guys on the street a time or two.  Yup, she's a New Yorker, all right.  

In New York, the models can throw a mean right cross, so watch out!

The bad guys are really really bad, but somehow we love them, too.  Merry Christmas, Harry!  Happy Hanukka, Marv!

    But to me the absolute stars among the minor characters are the desk clerks at the fabulous Plaza Hotel, with Tim Curry playing the self-important Concierge with his overdone English accent.  Keep in mind that Tim really is an English actor, playing an American with a fake English accent.  Got it?    

Tim is a genius at comical facial expressions and comedic timing.  We love to hate him, which makes it all the more fun when Kevin is able to trick him at various points in the film.  It's kind of like the Road Runner defeating the Coyote.  We don't get tired of it or at least I don't.   

Tim  also gives a few lessons about physical comedy;  for example, when he needs to crawl away from what he thinks is a gunman in the hotel (another Kevin trick!).   There are probably a hundred different ways for an actor to crawl, but Tim decided to slither, kind of like a snake (try it some time, it's not easy, but it looks very funny).  

Also watch what happens when Cedric is temporarily stunned and lies on the floor by the elevator.  Little details, but they make you laugh!

The finest idiots in New York
What kind of idiots do you have working at this hotel?

   Something else that comes across to me is that the writers and producers seem to have thought out the social implications of their work.   They realized that they might unintentionally inspire children to run away from home or to confront criminals themselves rather than alerting the authorities.  But it seems to me that they built quite a bit into the script to emphasize that Kevin's adventure was the result of an accident, and that everyone tried their best not to leave a young child alone, and likewise the confrontation with the bad guys was something that Kevin really wanted to avoid if at all possible.  

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