Australian Council on Children and the Media

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

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Short takes

Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 12 (severely trivialised slapstick violence, coarse language, sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
  • a review of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 December 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to severely trivialised slapstick violence, coarse language, and some sexual references.
Children aged 8–12 Parental guidance recommended due to severely trivialised slapstick violence, coarse language, and some sexual references.
Children aged 13 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

One year after Kevin (Macauly Culkin) was accidentally left home alone, the McCallisters get ready for another Christmas family holiday – this time they are bound for Florida. Just like the year before, everyone oversleeps on the morning of departure, and they get into a hectic frenzy to not miss the plane. 10 year-old Kevin gets lost at the airport, and in a chain of crazy events he boards the wrong plane – bound for New York! Of course, resourceful and street-smart Kevin decides to make the best of it, and because he was carrying his Dad's bag including wallet and credit card, he is able to book himself into a luxurious suite in a fancy Manhattan hotel. Things get more complicated when a concierge notices that the credit card is registered as stolen. Terrified of getting arrested for credit card fraud, Kevin runs away to turn to an uncle who lives in New York but finds his house vacant and under renovation. To top things off, the same two criminals, Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), who tried to burgle Kevin's house the year before, have escaped prison and are also in New York, planning to rob a toy store. When Kevin learns about their plan, he decides to put a spoke in their wheel and get them arrested once more.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Slapstick humour; Resourcefulness; Importance of friendship and family.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is frequent and grossly trivialised slapstick violence in this movie including:

  • During a Christmas concert, Kevin's older brother plays a mean prank on Kevin. When Kevin realises, he punches his brother in the face, and this causes a chain effect of other people falling over and getting hurt.
  • In his hotel room, Kevin watches a gangster movie in which a man brutally shoots a woman with a machine gun.
  • When Kevin first encounters Harry and Marv, they try to snatch him, but he lays a trap of sugar beads on which they slip and fall.
  • Kevin sets a trap outside the shop Harry and Marv have broken into, leaving Harry being catapulted high up in the air and smashing into a car, totally destroying it.
  • Kevin lures Harry and Marv into his uncle's house, which he has prepared with a whole arsenal of traps, with painful consequences for the pair:
    • Kevin throws bricks from the roof of the townhouse and hits Marv in the head four times.
    • Marv has industrial staples shot into his backside, private parts, and face.
    • Harry slips off a ladder that Kevin has covered in grease, falling down several metres, landing on his back.
    • Marv falls down an entire floor, landing flat on his front, making his vertebrae crackle, and he passes out.
    • Harry gets hit and buried under an entire bag of heavy metal tools.
    • Marv gets buried under a shelf filled with paint buckets.
    • Marv gets electrocuted.
    • Harry's beanie gets set on fire, and for unknown reasons, instead of taking it off decides to put it out in a toilet. Kevin has obviously replaced the water with a flammable liquid, leading to an explosion, leaving Harry with burnt off hair.
    • Marv gets hit by a sack of cement that falls down from the next level up.
    • Harry falls off a ladder Kevin has tampered with.
    • Kevin releases a massive metal bar swinging into Harry and Marv.
    • Kevin launches a man-sized metal tool chest, ramming Harry and Marv into a wall.
    • Harry and Marv attempt to abseil from the top of the townhouse, but Kevin sets the rope on fire, they crash to the ground, only to be buried under buckets of varnish.
  • Harry and Marv repeatedly verbalise that they want to kill / shoot / murder Kevin.
  • As they eventually get a hold of him, Harry is going to shoot Kevin, but gets interrupted by Kevin's friend, the Pigeon Lady. Harry wants to shoot her but cannot operate his gun which is covered in slippery varnish.
  • The Pigeon Lady throws a bucket of bird food on Harry and Marv, and they get attacked by a flock of pigeons.

Parents should note: Harry and Marv miraculously get away with some minor cuts, burns, and bruises, and clearly don't get as seriously injured as one would expect if some of these things happened to someone in real life. In fact, it could be expected for some of the traps to be fatal. Kevin celebrates each blow triumphantly. These violent scenes are scripted to be funny, which trivialises and legitimises the use of violence.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Kevin wanders the streets alone at night and bumps into a few shady characters: an old man glares at him; an elderly woman mutters in an insane manner; a man with missing teeth shouts at him; and when he escapes into a taxi, the driver turns around and stares at him with a cloudy eye, which terrifies Kevin.
  • When Marv gets electrocuted, his face temporarily turns into a bony skull with dead eyes, and he is violently shaking and screaming.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images are likely to scare or disturb some children in this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Kevin gets chatted up by two ladies who ask him whether he is looking for someone to read him a bedside story and then laugh at him. Based on this comment and the way they are dressed, it is clearly implied that they are prostitutes.

Nudity and sexual activity

There are some references to nudity in this movie, including:

  • Kevin tells his parents that his uncle warned him that if he ever saw him naked, he would never feel like a real man.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The prostitutes are smoking cigarettes.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • You little pervert
  • Jerk
  • Idiots
  • You big horses' ass
  • You big sissy
  • Shut up.

In a nutshell

Like the predecessor, Home Alone, this sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, contains some positive messages. These messages fade into the background, however, next to the whole new level of slapstick violence compared to the first film. This is a different level because, firstly, this time, Kevin does not defend his own house that is being attacked, but maliciously lures the shenanigans into a house equipped with traps. Secondly, these traps are not harmless little boy pranks, but in real life, could very well kill someone, many times over. This gross trivialisation and legitimisation of violence makes the film unsuitable for a young audience, and parents should provide guidance and encourage a discussion with their children, aged 8 and over, how Kevin could have dealt with the situation differently.

The main message from this movie is that the end justifies the means (in a very doubtful way) and that family and friends are important.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Charity
  • It's worth trusting people again even after a disappointment.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Trivialising violence.
  • Using good intentions as an excuse and justification for wrong and cruel actions: Kevin's alleged goal was "a good deed" to make up for his mistakes, and he decides that he will make sure that Harry and Marv don't steal the charity money for the shop. The idea is all well and good – taking this kind of absurdly violent and remorseless measures is not.

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