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PURE CORN 'HOME ALONE' CAST RINGS THE BELL AGAIN

Tabulations are based on an exit poll averaging at least 300 film-goers per movie. Viewers rate the movie between 1 and 4 stars. "Audience Approval" is the percent who gave the film either 3 1/2 or 4 stars.

COMMENTS

The original "Home Alone" stormed the holiday season two years ago, ringing up an astounding 92 percent Audience Approval and a few of the most wildly hilarious sight gags in cinema history.

I can see the critics impatiently fiddling with their bludgeons, so it must be time for its sequel, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York."

This sequel's original formula has been followed to the letter (to the joyous dismay of national critics). Boy is left behind. Boy becomes resourceful while he dispatches two thugs bent on skullduggery. Boy makes someone appreciate life in the process. Macaulay Culkin returns as the defenseless imp and (to the joy of moviegoers) so do evil thugs Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

This time a bollixed Culkin family departure at Chicago's O'Hare Airport accidentally routes the clan's bulk to Florida while lone Macaulay departs independently to New York. Oops 2.

Culkin finagles his way, via dad's credit cards, into a four-star hotel. He again meets low-life Pesci and Stern planning to rob the local store of proceeds intended for the poor. The lonely neighbor of the first movie is displaced here with a lonely pigeon lady.

The original "Home Alone" succeeded because the hapless criminals' destruction was total and gleefully violent. But most importantly, every ounce of agony was seen on the contorted faces of poor Pesci and Stern: a cinematic ballet of pain. Can they do it again? The answer is yes.

Moviegoers chortled: "Superb for kids," "Just as funny as the first," "Great action," "Boy, those burglars took a lot of abuse" and "It's sure there'll be a third" (Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon: "This time, everybody's favorite resourceful mite is adrift in Manhattan with the same two duncey thugs on his case with the resultant cartoon mayhem of even richer and more highly evolved subteen sadism" and gave it 4 of 5 stars).

OTHER MOVIES

"Malcolm X": Spike Lee's much anticipated new biography, "Malcolm X," illuminates dark corners in a life that was as filled with shadows as it was filled with confused controversy. Before his assassination in 1965, this radical black founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity sparked raging emotion from all quarters. His hate-filled speeches shook conservative observers of the emerging Black identity, and the discovery of Muslim beliefs again confused many. At the point of emergence into a unified philosophy, he was killed.

Moviegoers responded: "An important movie about African-American struggles," "You don't have to be Black to appreciate this," "Educational and informative" and "Too long" (Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon: "Spike Lee's supreme work and, without a question, the most important film of 1992" and gave it 4 1/2 stars).

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