The Good Son (1993)

Ever see Atonement? The same screenwriter, Ian McEwan, also wrote this movie, which is all about exactly how we always figured Kevin McCallister was going to turn out. It’s directed by Joseph Ruben, who also was the director of Breaking AwayDreamscapeThe Stepfather and Sleeping with the Enemy.

It probably wouldn’t have happened without Kit Culkin, the father of Macaulay, who was a big man in Hollywood thanks to the popularity of his son. He wanted to prove that his boy could be more than a comedy star, so in order to greenlight Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Macaulay had to star in this movie first.

Mark Evans (Elijah Wood) may not have even hit puberty yet, but he’s already had to deal with the death of his mother and the fact that he has to stay with his uncle Wallace and aunt Susan, as well as their children Connie (Quinn Culkin, whose role in this movie was contractually obligated) and Henry (yep, Macaulay). The latter child is, of course, nuts and obsessed with the death of Mark’s mom and his own little brother Richard (Rory Culkin and you have to say it for those Culkin’s, they know how to get work for the whole family tree).

Of course, Henry’s little bits of crazy soon manifest themselves in killing small animals, causing huge pile-ups on the highway and shoving his little sister under the ice. The movie asks all manner of psychological questions about the love of a mother versus doing the right thing and whether or not any of us are prepared to kill a child.

The tone of this movie is all over the place. You’re used to Macaulay being funny and dangerous to the right people, so when he does the same thing to the wrong people, you kind of want to keep on his side. Perhaps if the film’s original director, Michael Lehmann of Heathers and Meet the Applegates, had stayed on and hadn’t battled with Macaulay’s dad, things would have been different.

This is the only film in which Culkin plays a villain, but not the only one where he dies. The first would be My Girl, which ruined many a pre-teen video rental. And while this movie is a 1990’s spin on The Bad Seed, it is nowhere as good. Did you expect any different?

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