This time, Kevin McCallister (Culkin) actually manages to make it to the airport with his burgeoning brood of assorted relatives, but is then separated from his parents (Heard and O'Hara) during the (frantic last-minute scramble through the terminal. And as they fly off to a rain-sodden Christmas break in Miami, he finds himself on board a flight from Chicago to New York.
The essential difference between the two films is that the cheeky blond ubermoppet is in command of his own destiny rather more than he was in the original, as armed with a recordable Walkman and his dad's credit card he checks into the Plaza Hotel in the Big Apple (cue Donald Trump cameo) and almost immediately begins abusing room service, thus evoking the wrath of head porter Tim Curry before being rumbled and finding himself traipsing the streets. There he again encounters the newly escaped "sticky bandits" (Pesci and Stern), whom he helped put away in the first film, and again foils their plans - this time to raid a toy shop on Christmas Eve. The fun here, of course, derives from a certain familiarity with the material, as gags are repeated and situations reprised, the assumption being that what you've seen once and laughed at, you'll laugh at again.
Culkin, inevitably, is both older and wiser, with the cutesy factor that was part of his appeal first time round fading fast - thus he's given even more crisp one-liners to toss off, which he does with the delivery of a pro. Hughes' script and Columbus' direction are equally mechanical and self-aware, never quite attaining the comic heights of the original, while the violence is again pure sadistic Tom & Jerry - almost too much, in fact, when you consider the age of the target audience - as Culkin systematically tortures the two wrongdoers, lobbing bricks at Stern, firing nails into his nose and setting Pesci's hair alight. This is, inevitably perhaps, not as funny as the original - the law of diminishing returns applying here as with most sequels - although even the most demanding of viewers should find something to their liking.