|The Good Son
1993 - R - 87 Mins.
|Director: Joseph Ruben
|Producer: Mary Ann Page
|Written By: Ian McEwan
|Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, Wendy Crewson, David Morse, Quinn Culkin
|Review by: John Ulmer
Wow, what a bad movie! Macaulay Culkin stars as a small demonic serial killer who isn't able to show more than one personality trait throughout the entire motion picture. "The Good Son" is a "good" example of how not to make a thriller. Not only is it stupid, it's disturbing seeing filmmakers having an eleven-year-old kill people. There's just something about it that's not right -- at least not in this type of subtext.
My hair is thicker than your hair!
Macaulay Culkin is completely upstaged by the future Frodo Baggins. But let's face it, you could have two of the best actors in the world in this material and it still wouldn't be any "good." I'll give him credit: Elijah Wood tries to rise above the material, but he can't seem to surface. He tries to bring the film to a higher level than it is. I half expected to see a young Sean Astin infiltrate the screen and yell, "Run, Mr. Frodo!" towards the so-called "grand finale" of this awful piece of celluloid history.
The film starts out with Mark Evans (Wood) going to live with his aunt and uncle after his mother dies, because his father has a business deal in Japan (or something like that). Upon arrival at his relatives' home, he meets his evil cousin Henry (Culkin), who makes a startling appearence in a mask.
The boys become friends, but Mark starts to see things happening soon thereafter. First of all, his cousin kills a dog with a nail-gun he created. And then he tries to kill his sister (numerous times). And then we find out that years ago, Culkin's little brother drowned in the bathtub while he was looking over him (we find out later he killed the boy because his brother got one of his toys -- a rubber duck -- and he wanted it back). So, to save the sister, Mark has to convince everyone that Culkin is a homicidal maniac with serious problems.
Culkin is eerie to begin with -- he brings nothing to this character, he just plays himself. He was fine in "Uncle Buck" and "Home Alone" because at that time in his life, acting required no actual skill -- just lots of yelling and cute slapstick faces.
And furthermore, now that I've bashed Culkin, I have to ask myself: Why did they even cast Culkin? Macaulay Culkin is one of the worst child actors I've seen in a long time, and luckily his reign has ended. Now we have Haley Joel Osment, who actually has gained the honor of being a good child actor.
In "The Good Son," Culkin delivers a speech to Wood while they are standing at the refrigerator. He mumbles every badly-written line helplessly. He stares at Wood, motionless, without facial expressions. He looks like he's reading his lines off the top of Wood's forehead.
Now, you could say his part calls for no emotions, but this kid ALWAYS has that look on his face in ALL his movies. I mean, other than his role in "Uncle Buck," the kid just can't act. "Home Alone" was a good film...but not because of him. That was due to a great script and great supporting cast. And that's it.
But one of the worst things about 'The Good Son' is the fact that it seems written for/by children...yet it is in no way suitable for children. It's a sick, twisted film that tries to be both a thriller/chiller and a kids' movie. It's neither. Adults will laugh at it, kids will go home with nightmares, and that means it's unsuitable for anyone -- hence its box office failure.