Home Alone is one of those classic Christmas movies that you absolutely need to watch every year around the holidays.
The 1990 film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin, an eight-year-old boy who accidentally gets left at home by himself when his large family heads off to Paris for Christmas. As his mother (Catherine O’Hara) frantically tries to make her way back to him when she realizes he is missing, Kevin finds himself setting up a series of intricate booby traps to take down a pair of hapless thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).
As if the premise wasn’t unbelievable enough, the movie was followed up by a sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, set a few years later where Kevin is now lost at the airport and accidentally boards a flight to New York City where he coincidentally runs into those same burglars.
Both films are fantastic, must-watches for the holidays. But which is better? Here are 5 reasons the second film is better than the original, and 5 why the original can’t be surpassed.
10 The Way Kevin Is Left Is More Believable: Better
While it’s crazy to think that Kevin could get separated from his family a second time and be left to his own devices again on Christmas, at least the way it happens in the second film is more believable. In the first, a series of events lead to Kevin being left behind: the clean-up of a spill where his passport gets thrown out, being sent to the bedroom attic to sleep after getting in trouble, the family oversleeping, and a nosy neighbor child accidentally being counted as Kevin amidst the chaos.
In the second film, it’s in the hustle and bustle of the airport that Kevin stops to re-load his recorder with batteries than mistakenly follows a man wearing the same coat as his dad. While it’s unlikely he would be able to board a plane with no adults or passport, the idea of a child getting lost in an airport is more believable than one being left at home.
9 Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal: Not Better
How can any movie compete with such memorable lines as “Keep the change, ya filthy animal?” Kevin pops in a VHS tape of a fictional violent movie called Angels With Filthy Souls that his parents would never let him watch had they been home. An actor utters these words after loading an enemy with bullets, and Kevin plays the clip when trying to get a pizza delivery boy to leave the property.
The phrase has become so popular that you can find variations of it on clothing and other items, like sweaters that declare “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.”
8 Tim Curry…Enough Said: Better
Tim Curry is everything in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He plays Mr. Hector, the personal concierge at the Plaza Hotel in New York City where Kevin checks in using his dad’s credit card. Mr. Hector is understandably suspicious of this young boy, always asking about his father and where he might be since he has yet to actually see him.
Curry’s performance is one of the most memorable of the movie: he’s a pompous hotel employee who has to balance his distrust for the young boy with his eagerness not to upset his wealthy businessman father should he actually exist.
7 The Signature Scream: Not Better
The original Home Alone is home to that iconic scene where Kevin is getting ready in the morning after a shower. He’s dancing about and lip syncing along to White Christmas. He pats on some aftershave, not realizing what it is or how it might feel on his face and screams into the mirror with his hands on his cheeks.
The action has been mimicked in popular culture and by people around the world. It has even been turned into plenty of memes online.
6 That Limo Scene: Better
That limo scene in the movie is every 10-year-old child’s dream. Kevin walks up to a limousine where a bellhop greets him with his very own piping hot cheese pizza (a nice callback to the first film). As he travels across New York, Kevin chows down on the pie while drinking Cola-Cola in a champagne glass and watching The Grinch on the tiny television.
He pulls down the divider and asks the driver to take him to the nearest toy store. It doesn’t get any better than that!
5 The Element Of Surprise: Not Better
In the first movie, viewers didn’t really know what to expect until they saw Kevin’s carefully drawn out plan and watched him set up the various booby traps to take down the criminals. Each one was so well-thought-out and impressive. Watching the Wet Bandits, as they called themselves, get burned with an iron or blowtorched to the head, was hilarious.
By the second film, however, we already knew what Kevin was capable of, so when the story led to him having to come up with another similar mischievous plan, it was predictable. And it wasn’t as good or surprising as the first movie.
4 Different Settings: Better
The first movie took place almost entirely in the McAllister house, but for a few scenes with Kevin going to the store, for example, to buy groceries (and a toothbrush!) and with his mother in the airport or traveling with the music group to get home.
The setting of New York City made for an interesting backdrop and we were able to see Kevin outside of the house as a young boy on his own in a big city. It also allowed him to interact with more characters.
3 Far More Dangerous: Not Better
While we know it’s just a movie, the idea of a young boy left home alone is one thing, but a young boy on a plane, then traveling around New York City on his own, is downright frightening.
Kevin could have gotten into so much more trouble, hurt, or worse, while walking about by himself. The element of added danger made the series a bit more difficult to process, especially when it, in some ways, glamorized the idea of a young boy ditching his parents and traveling to an unsafe city.
2 Beautiful Moral Lessons: Better
While there were a few lessons in Home Alone, like to love and cherish your family and to never judge a book by its cover as Kevin had done with his elderly neighbour, there were more lessons in Home Alone 2.
Kevin befriended an eccentric homeless woman, Pigeon Lady, whose only friends were birds, and helped save a toy store from being robbed, for which he was generously rewarded. We also learned that there are consequences for actions: while Kevin was living it up in style while away, his father finally gets the massive credit card bill. Kevin would probably be doing chores until he went to college in order to pay it all back.
1 Wet Bandits Really Wanted to Hurt Him: Not Better
In the first movie, the Wet Bandits were more interested in breaking into the house and stealing things than they were in hurting Kevin. Chances are had he not antagonized them, they might have simply tied him up, stole what they wanted, and left him alone.
But now that he was responsible for putting them in jail and causing them physical harm, they were truly out to harm him. And that idea was terrifying, especially when you consider a 10-year-old boy on his own in a big city. Their hapless nature turned far more violent in the second film.