Okay, so... there's a pretty good chance I'm in a solid minority here, but... I like this one a bit more than it's predecessor. It's one I have to turn my back on other critics for as well, with an astonishing low of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, perhaps you're asking what makes it better?
Well, make no mistake. I SEE where this gets a bad rap from. It's essentially a repeat idea of Kevin's (Macaulay Culkin) family screwing up again, and once again rushing for their flight, this time to Florida. This time Kevin is tagging along, but with his dire need to change a tape in a stupid tape recorder, loses track of his family and ends up on the wrong flight to New York City. There, he has run-ins with his old criminal enemies, Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, respectively), but throughout the movie Kevin seems more keen on avoiding them and their trouble. That is until he learns of their plans to rob an orphanage as well as rob Duncan's Toy Chest (which, in reality, is F.A.O. Schwartz Toy Store) blind.
This time around, Kevin finds a place for his battleground which happens to be a relative's home, undergoing renovations. So a lot of the traps this time around involve industrial tools and equipment as opposed to household items. Of course, the whole thing DOES essentially end up being the first movie all over again, so I understand where critics are coming from. Even a lot of the gags are repeated.
The difference here, and what makes me appreciate it a bit more, are two very specific things. For one, this time around, Kevin isn't on home turf. He's in Manhattan in the early 90's, which was a scary place to be. There's an immediate threat to his very safety based on that idea alone. The other major thing here is that in the first movie, Kevin is defending his home from these guys. Most people would consider the same if it were to happen to them. However, here, Kevin decides to actually be a hero and stop these guys from ruining Christmas for a whole bunch of other kids. I tend to see that as a pretty major, selfless growth for Kevin, considering what a brat he can actually be.
On top of all that, I just think this one is funnier over all, where the first one was a bit sweeter. There are several moments here that still make me laugh out loud, mostly involving the brutality of some of the traps Kevin sets this time around. If the first movie was gonna cause injuries if it were more realistic, this one would have probably caused a couple of deaths. But again, "realistic" isn't what we're here for. We're here to watch a live-action cartoon.
Otherwise, though, I can admit it's pretty much the same thing with a different look. Kinda like comparing 'A New Hope' to 'The Force Awakens'. I also admit that I probably enjoyed the mysterious old man from the first as compared to the mysterious bird lady in this one. I may vote that this one has better stuff to it, but it's understandable being in the 1% on this one. Really, watching the two back to back is a fun treat and in the end, it's only my opinion that makes this better for me, personally. It's not what I'd say is a better movie than the first though. I know that's very confusing.
Try to think of it this way. My favorite movie of all time is 'Ghostbusters', but it's not what I would consider the BEST movie of all time, because I recognize there are titles like 'The Godfather' that could easily outdo it. In other words, in the grand scheme of things, 'Home Alone' is probably a better movie than 'Home Alone 2', but I just enjoy the latter a bit more, for myself.