While the original 1990 movie is by far superior, the 1992 sequel still has its charms. I refuse to consider anything after that because they only weaken the franchise.
These movies nicely balance slapstick with messages of redemption. But they don’t veer too far in one direction or another.
Macauley Culkin (whose aunt Bonnie Bedelia stars in two of my other favorite Christmas movies – Die Hard) is certainly a key reason for the success. He is neither cloying or obnoxious (or obnoxiously cloying).
While the adults are meant to be more cartoonish, they still keep the film grounded. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern have wonderful chemistry as the Wet Bandits. John Heard’s slightly befuddled father is an apt foil for Catherine O’Hara’s intense mother. The latter displays much warmth when needed, as well.
John Candy turns in a fun cameo in the first film. If you blink, you may miss future Tony nominee and The Newsroom actress Hope Davis as a French ticket agent. The second film loads up on supporting players from Oscar winner Brenda Fricker, Tony nominees Tim Curry and Dana Ivey, SNL’s Rob Schneider and even a cameo from The Donald. Former movie song and dance man Eddie Bracken plays the NYC toy store owner.
These are light-hearted films which still make me laugh out loud. They are certainly enjoyable any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.