THE GOOD SON, 1993
Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, Wendy Crewson, David Morse, Ashley Crow, Jacqueline Brookes, Guy Strauss
After the death of his mother, Mark is sent to live with his aunt and uncle while his dad goes out of the country on business. Mark and his cousin Henry quickly become friends, but when Henry becomes increasingly more psychotic nobody will believe Mark of the danger his cousin presents.
Macaulay Culkin became a hugely popular household name as a great child actor after his leading roles in such family films as “Uncle Buck”, “My Girl”, and the first two movies of the “Home Alone” franchise. Children loved him because they wanted to be him, and adults loved him because he was just so adorable and talented. So what in the hell was Hollywood thinking by making him the murderous villain in a thriller when he was still only 13?!
12 year old Mark is playing in his soccer game when his father comes to take him to the hospital where the boy's mother is dying. Mark is the last one to see her when she dies, but he is in a state of denial and insists that she is going to come back (even days after it's over).
Mark's dad wants to be there for his son, but is called away on a business trip in Tokyo, Japan. Unable to bring Mark with him, he does the only thing he can think of to do: send Mark to temporarily live with his aunt Susan and uncle Wallace.
When Mark arrives at his aunt and uncle's residence, he's introduced to the rest of family- his cousins Henry (who is the same age as Mark) and Connie.
Mark and Henry (who seems very polite) quickly become friends after they discover they have some of the same interests. There's a mishap in their tree house causing Mark to fall out. Henry catches Mark, saving him, but makes the comment “If I let you go, do you think you can fly?” before finally pulling Mark to safety.
Henry's demented behavior increases when he first kills the neighbor's dog with a homemade crossbow and later pushes a makeshift mannequin off a highway overpass causing a multiple car pile-up. Henry warns Mark not to tell anyone about the highway incident, because since he was there as well he'd be considered an accomplice.
Mark tries to tell his uncle Wallace, but Henry is already talking to him and runs Mark off before the truth can come out. As punishment for trying to tell on him, Henry attempts to kill his younger sister (who Mark is fond of) by shoving her on thin ice. At the hospital, Mark tells aunt Susan what Henry did, but she accuses Mark of lying and even slaps him.
Susan starts to become suspicious, however, when she snoops around Henry's private “workshop” and finds the rubber duck that was in the bathtub with Richard – Henry's baby brother who drowned in a bathtub. The duck had gone missing after the infant died, and Henry makes the claim the duck was his first and snatches it away.
Henry continues to threaten Mark by threatening to kill Susan (who still doesn't believe Henry is a killer but knows something is off), and nobody will believe Mark, but even so he knows he has to do something to stop Henry.
“The Good Son” is one of those movies that when you read the title you think to yourself “Oh yeah, I remember that movie! It was awesome!” and so you watch it because you haven't seen it in almost 20 years. Unfortunately, upon re-watching it you realize that it really isn't that awesome and you can't quite figure out why you were so in love with it all those years ago.
Let's start with the possible good things. The story is cool. Sure, now days there are tons of movies out there about sadistic kids going on killing rampages, but in 1993 they were few and far between. It was a pretty original movie and it had some intense moments that had you rooting for and feeling bad for Elijah Wood while hating Macaulay Culkin.
Unfortunately, the reason for liking one character and hating the other was due to the situations they were in, not because of the acting. In fact, watching this movie made me wonder why Macaulay Culkin was ever considered a good actor in his childhood. He is absolutely abysmal in this film. He seems more like a piece of dull cardboard than a psychotic killer. And when he does try to show emotion, it's so over-the-top that it's laughable and makes the film feel like something that was made on a budget of $15,000 rather than the $15,000,000 it actually cost. I'd have to go back and watch his other films (like those mentioned in the first paragraph of this review) to see if it's just this specific performance that's lacking or if he was just a crappy actor in general that America loved because he was a cute kid that they were told was loveable, but one thing's for sure, he was awful in “The Good Son”!
Elijah Wood gave a good performance, but sadly he was the only good actor in the entire cast.
The cinematography is very cool in this film, so there's another positive. It might have been painful to sit through the performances, but the look of everything was very pleasing to the eyes.
Finally the soundtrack was just as bad as the acting. In most cases, the score completely drowns out what's actually going on in the scene. A good score is one in which you don't realize it's there because you just feel the emotions its meant to invoke. In “The Good Son”, there are times when all you can pay attention to IS the music and how much it doesn't fit the scene at all.
If you want to watch something to make you feel nostalgic, then maybe check out “The Good Son”, but be warned it's NOT as good as you remember it being.
I give “The Good Son” a 2 out of 5.
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