The Good Son Review
Synopsis:A young boy stays with his aunt and uncle, and befriends his cousin who's the same age. But his cousin begins showing increasing signs of violent behavior.
Take a trip back to the early 90s with me. Bill Clinton just became the President, Michael Jordan is at the peak of his fame, and Michael Jackson is starting to have a hard time. But, one thing, or should I say one person defined the early 1990s.
We all loved him in Home Alone (1990), Home Alone 2 (1992), and My Girl (1991). He was America’s cool kid cousin. But, then a movie came out that dared audiences to detest Culkin. How could we when we were all saying “Merry Christmas ya filthy animal” and slapping our hands on our faces while screaming in the mirror? How could we possibly find this national treasure of a person deplorable?
With The Good Son. That’s how.
The Good Son (1993) is a good/bad movie that follows the story of Mark, played by Elijah Wood. After Mark’s mother passes away, his dad has to leave him with his Aunt and Uncle. Mark is all sorts of torn apart; he needs a family, and he’s searching to replace his mom. Which is kind of creepy. He meets Henry, Macaulay Culkin, his same-aged cousin. Things start off great. Henry and Mark are doing boys will be boys type stuff, breaking windows, running in graveyards, and climbing trees. As their relationship grows Mark becomes directly involved in Henry’s hijinks. Which are more like psychotic episodes than hijinks. Mark realizes that Henry intends to direct his deadly ambitions towards his own family, turning the story into a taut thriller.
I can’t say that The Good Son is a good movie. At least not in the way that Cape Fear (1991) is a good movie. The Good Son is a good-bad movie. Cheesy and fun, with lots of lame filmmaking but very memorable and nostalgia-inducing scenes.
From the first frame, I was instantly transported back to the early 90s. A simpler and more innocent time for me. When I thought not just saying but also hearing the F word was going to send me straight to hell. Macaulay Culkin spits it out with such ease, so cavalier he doesn’t even flinch. Watching that as a kid I thought to myself “Oh that’s a bad kid. Better stay away from him. He’s trouble.”
And there lies an interesting thing about The Good Son. It’s a kids story inside an adults movie. I think that kids will still respond to this movie the way I did. Sort of as an introduction to older people movies. But, now as a sort of adult, a movie with a kid smoking a cigarette, shooting a dog, and planning to harm his family doesn’t frighten me. I simply think the kid needs to be taken out. Sorry buddy. You’re done.
But unfortunately, that’s all that The Good Son has going for it. I never empathized for Elijah Wood, who is supposed to be the central character, which made me feel terrible. And I never felt bad for his Aunt whose youngest child mysteriously drowned in the bathtub (maybe a twist in the story, ya think!?), which also made me feel terrible. But, I can’t blame myself for feeling empty and heartless towards their problems. I can blame my parents! Just kidding, it’s the writing. Either the screenwriter, the producers, or both realized that people would only see this movie because the cute kid from Home Alone shoots a dog. So, naturally, all other parts of the story are pushed to the side to make room for psychotic monologs and transparent threats.
Every character outside of Henry is pretty much one dimensional. Which is sad because there are only two other important characters, Mark and Henry’s mom/creepily forced surrogate mom to Mark, Susan. They’re characterized as just being sad, and then sadder, and maybe a little bit sadder after that. They try giving Elijah Wood something to work with by making him blame himself for his mother’s death, but it never really makes sense.
Yes, it is terrible to lose a parent, and I do plan to turn my parents into cyborgs when the time comes, but having a character’s internal conflict in a film be that he feels he let his mother die, when the death was out of his control is not the story of a thriller. It’s the story of a person who becomes a scientist or a surgeon. Again, I just couldn’t get invested in his plight, making The Good Son a fine movie to watch Macaulay Culkin in but a pointless movie to really care about.
So, yes, The Good Son has its fair share of problems, too many to mention in under 1000 words. But, I would say if you are a fan of cheesy 90s thrillers and Macaulay Culkin, definitely give it a look. You’ll either disagree with me and find it enthralling, or you’ll laugh through the whole thing.
2 Culkin F Words outta 5
About The Good Son (1993)
Total Avg. Votes: 10
Writers: Ian McEwan
Director: Joseph Ruben