Story Notes for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

sn-home-alone-2-284x184Weeknights during prime time on AMC, you can catch Story Notes — real time trivia and facts about your favorite movies! Below is the online version of the Story Notes for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Anthology Notes
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is the 1992 follow-up to the holiday classic Home Alone (1990). Director Chris Columbus, writer/producer John Hughes, and most of the cast returned for the sequel.

Writer John Hughes and director Chris Columbus wanted the plot to be similar to Home Alone. Hughes: “We felt we owed something to the kids who had seen [Home Alone] several times.”

In Home Alone 2, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) watches Angels with Even Filthier Souls – not a real movie. It’s the “sequel” to Angels with Filthy Souls, the fake movie Kevin watched in Home Alone.

In Home Alone, the McCallisters also watch It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – in French.

Uncle Rob and Aunt Georgette were the relatives the McCallisters were visiting in Paris in the first movie.

Biographical Notes
Macaulay Culkin is the third of seven kids. His younger brother Kieran plays his cousin Fuller in this movie.

Culkin was born in New York City. He grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

John Heard and Catherine O’Hara were both in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985).

Kieran Culkin (Fuller) was nominated for a Golden Globe for Igby Goes Down (2002). Younger brother Rory is also an actor – he won a Young Artist Award for You Can Count on Me (2000).

Tim Curry (Concierge) got his first job by lying to the producers of Hair about being in the stage actors’ union. The producers were so impressed with Curry they cast him anyway.

Tim Curry also faced off against a kid in New York when he played Rooster Hannigan in Annie (1982).

As a teenager, Brenda Fricker worked at the Irish Times and hoped to become a reporter.

Like Culkin, Joe Pesci (Harry Lime) was a child actor. At 10, he was on the 1950s variety show, The Star Time Kids.

O’Hara followed up Home Alone 2 with another holiday movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

Chris Columbus’ next movie is Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). He’d later direct the first two Harry Potter movie.

Macaulay Culkin played a more serious role in his following movie, the R-rated The Good Son (1993).

Casting Notes
Home Alone made Macaulay Culkin a star. He is No. 2 on VH1′s list of “100 Greatest Kid Stars.” Justin Bieber is No. 1.

Catherine O’Hara had just starred in There Goes the Neighborhood (1992).

John Heard had just been in Radio Flyer (1992) with a young Elijah Wood.

Devin Ratray (Buzz) is in Dennis the Menace (1993), also written by John Hughes.

Gerry Bamman (Uncle Frank) is in The Bodyguard (1992), which came out the same year as this.

Ally Sheedy (NY Ticket Agent) is the star of writer John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club (1985). She did this cameo as a favor to director Chris Columbus after starring in his movie Only the Lonely (1991).

Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci reprise their roles as “The Wet Bandits.” Stern had just been in City Slickers (1991) with Billy Crystal and Pesci had just starred in My Cousin Vinny (1992).

Dana Ivey (Desk Clerk) is a New York-based actress known for her work in theater. As of 2013, she’s the only person to get Tony nods for Best Featured Actress in a play and musical in the same year (1984).

Tim Curry (who also stars in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) had just played an evil clown in the miniseries It (1990).

Rob Schneider (Bellman) had just become a full-time cast member on Saturday Night Live (1990-1994).

The gangster in the fictional movie on TV is Chicago actor Ralph Foody. He also had a small part in John Hughes’ Curly Sue (1991).

Brenda Fricker (Pigeon Lady) won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Daniel Day Lewis’ mother in My Left Foot (1989)

The toy store owner, E.F. Duncan, is 1940s movie star Eddie Bracken (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek). He “retired” in 1953. After a 30-year absence, Bracken was cast by John Hughes in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983).

Finance Notes
Eleven-year-old Macaulay Culkin was paid $4.5 million for Home Alone 2.

Along with Aladdin (1992), Home Alone 2 led the box office to its richest-ever Thanksgiving weekend.

Home Alone 2 was No. 1 at the box office and the second-highest grossing movie of 1992. It went on to make $173 million and became one of the most popular holiday movies of all time.

Historical Note
Central Park was built in the 1800s as an escape from NYC’s cramped neighborhoods.

Location Notes
Haven Middle School in Evanston, Illinois was also used in John Hughes’s Curly Sue (1991).

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world.

New York City’s two major airports are JFK and LaGuardia – but NYC airport scene was shot at Chicago’s O’Hare.

The Queensboro/59th Street Bridge was renamed in 2011 in honor of former mayor Ed Koch.

When the movie was filmed, the Fulton Fish Market was in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. It moved to the Bronx in 2005.

Central Park is the most-visited urban park in the U.S., with about 25 million people a year.

The Plaza Hotel opened in 1907. It cost $12 million to build – a huge amount back then. It’s the only NYC hotel to be designated as a national historic landmark.

The hotel suite used in the movie is a real Plaza suite. Normally rooms were white and gold – it was redecorated for the movie.

You won’t find a pool at The Plaza. The pool scene was shot at a Four Seasons hotel in Chicago.

The ice skating rink is Wollman Rink in Central Park, located across from The Plaza. It opened in 1950.

The exterior for the toy store, Duncan’s Toy Chest, is Chicago’s Rookery Building. It was built during a boom in architecture after the Great Fire of 1871.

The toy store interior was a set built inside Chicago’s Uptown Theatre. It was modeled after New York City’s FAO Schwarz, located across Fifth Avenue from The Plaza.

The scene where Kevin (Culkin) runs down the stairs from the bandits takes place at Bethesda Terrace. It is considered the “heart of Central Park.”

Uncle Rob McCallister’s house was shot at the “New York Brownstone Street” set at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Most of it was destroyed in a 2008 fire.

The hospital is really a building at New York’s Columbia University.

Music Notes
“My Christmas Tree” was written by composer Alan Menken (Aladdin) and lyricist Jack Feldman (Newsies) for the movie.

Composer John Williams returned for the sequel after his Home Alone score was nominated for an Oscar. Williams is also the composer for Jaws (1975), E.T. (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), and over 70 other movies.

Composer John Williams said the music has to line up exactly with the scenes for it to work. Williams: “It needs to be really sewn to the action [like] an animated cartoon.”

“All Alone on Christmas” was written by Steven Van Zandt, performed by Darlene Love, 1992. Love is known for another holiday classic: 1963′s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

“Christmas Star” is co-written by Leslie Bricusse and John Williams, 1992. Leslie Bricusse co-wrote the songs for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is performed by Johnny Mathis, 1986. The song has been recorded by many artists, including Bing Crosby and Perry Como.

Composer John Williams used much of the same score from Home Alone.

Pop-Culture Notes
A talking Kevin doll was released after the movie. One thing it said was “I’d rather kiss a toilet seat.”

The Plaza’s real phone number is used in the movie. After the movie came out, reservations went through the roof.

The Talkboy was created for Home Alone 2. It was later sold as a toy. Demand for the Talkboy was so high, many stores sold out.

Following the movie’s release, The Plaza offered Home Alone 2 packages to visiting families. For $1100 a night, families could stay in Suite 411 – the “Kevin Suite.”

Replicas of the turtle dove ornaments were sold for years after the movie came out.

One of the movie’s taglines was, “He’s up past his bedtime in the city that never sleeps.”

Some critics complained about the movie’s violence, but director Chris Columbus said it wasn’t “reality.” Columbus compared the Home Alone movies to cartoons: “It’s the Road Runner come to life.”

Entertainment Weekly had a doctor analyze the real-life injuries to Harry and Marv. Bricks to the face would have caused “at best, brain damage; at worst, death.”

“Monster Sap” was a toy released with the movie that shot out green bath gel which looked like the goo used in the movie.

Entertainment Weekly listed Home Alone 2 in their “Most Popular Holiday Movies.”

Production Note
Director Chris Columbus studied 1930s and 1940s film noir to make the Angels With Filthier Souls scenes more authentic.

Quotation Notes
John Hughes: “It was vital to have the original cast members back.”

Director Chris Columbus said Macaulay Culkin was “relatable to every kid in America.”

Director Columbus: “New York is probably the most exciting city on the planet. It can also be the loneliest.”

Joe Pesci said kids would give him their addresses because they wanted him to rob their houses.

Chris Columbus said filming the sequel was a “whole different vibe” due to Macaulay Culkin’s fame. “There were busloads of people following him around. He suddenly became one of The Beatles.”

At the time, John Hughes said he couldn’t continue to write teen movies after having teenagers of his own. Hughes said, “I am now what I used to write in my movies: the befuddled father.”

Brenda Fricker joked that kids she meets were never impressed by her acting work until Home Alone 2.

John Hughes: “[In Home Alone 2] Kevin is older, more experienced; he’s done it all before… Just getting a pizza is no longer an adventure. It was necessary to find something to challenge him.”

Joe Pesci joked the sequel should be Lost in Hawaii: “[He] looks for his parents while we tan on the beach.”

Stunt coordinator Freddie Hice said working on the movie was like “going to a party every day.” Hice: “[Home Alone 2] has some of the hardest action-adventure sequences I ever worked on.”

Daniel Stern said since these movies, kids are either excited to see him or scared of him or or want to beat him up.

Daniel Stern called writer John Hughes “a brilliant man, but a big, silly, goofy guy underneath.”

Director Chris Columbus: “People accused us… of just remaking the first one. Which to some extent we did. It was fun because [Kevin] actually got to push the envelope a bit more.”

Columbus: “I can’t explain why kids get so insane about Kevin. It is one of the mysteries of the world.”

Daniel Stern said a pigeon really flew into his mouth. “That was revolting.”

Script Notes
Writer John Hughes said he took the sequel “very seriously” and wrote multiple drafts of the script. Hughes: “I decided New York was a great place to lose him. It’s a huge city. The kid can get in lots of trouble.”

Writer John Hughes said the bandits were inspired by the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.

Daniel Stern (Marv) said John Hughes’ Home Alone scripts described each moment in great detail. Stern said reading the scripts made him laugh out loud because it was like watching the movie.

Set Notes
Dir. Chris Columbus said there were times it was so cold the cameras froze and they couldn’t shoot.

The turtle doves were created for the movie by John Perry, known for his sculptures of sea life.

The carpeting was removed from The Plaza lobby for one scene so that Macaulay Culkin could slip and slide on the floor. Plaza owner Donald Trump liked it so much, he never replaced it.

Michael Jackson visited Culkin on the set of Home Alone 2.

After one scene, Macaulay Culkin asked Joe Pesci why he never smiled. Pesci told him to shut up. At the time, Pesci said, “He’s pampered a lot by a lot of people, but not me. And I think he likes that.”

They trained hundreds of pigeons for 12 weeks.

Catherine O’Hara was worried her character wasn’t trying hard enough to find Kevin. Scenes were added to show her concern. O’Hara said she practiced her “guilty-sad” face at home.

The Rockefeller Christmas tree was kept up a few days longer than usual in order to shoot the final scene.

Chris Columbus said they spent a lot of money on artificial snow for Central Park and then New York City had a blizzard.

Trivia Notes
The trip from Chicago to Miami by car would take 23 hours.

The statue in Central Park featured in the movie is of Jose de San Martin, an Argentine general. It was a gift from the city of Buenos Aires.

Donald Trump owned The Plaza at the time the movie was made. He sold it in 1995.

Kevin isn’t the only kid to hang out at The Plaza. The 1955 book Eloise is about a little girl who lived there.

The Plaza requires concierges to have “substantial professional experience” and “good character.”

Along with pigeons, Central Park is home to hawks, geese, ducks, herons, egrets, and swans.

There are roughly one million pigeons in New York City.

Carnegie Hall’s first performer was pianist Franz Rummel in April, 1891.

In the early ’90s — when this movie was made — crime in New York City was at an all-time high.

The FBI has reported that robberies generally go up during the Christmas season.

In reality, when Harry (Joe Pesci) catches on fire, it would have caused third-degree burns and certain death.

In 1992, New York City had more pay phones than any other city – over 50,000.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is usually a 75-to-90-foot-tall Norway spruce.

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