Tacky, sloppy genre exercise about how when screws are loose, even children can be psychotic*************************** The Good Son. Tacky, sloppy genre exercise about how when screws are loose, even children can be psychotic. After Elijah Wood’s character’s mother dies, his father must go away shortly on a business trip, leaving Elijah with his uncle’s family. Macaulay Culkin is the dangerous boy—and so he proves to Elijah on more than just one occasion—but naturally his parents think he is as innocent as they come…until it seems more and more plausible that he may have been responsible for his little brother’s death, and the attempted murder of his little sister (played by his real life sibling). As is a key element of teen movies—comedy or horror—parents/adults are nearly absent for the whole running-time (here a brief 82-minutes), making it that much easier for everyone to get into mischief. There are high demands placed on Wood and Culkin, and no matter how good they are, it’s practically impossible for them to play into the roles as the same characters would be ‘read’ in a novel or synopsis. Culkin is too diffident to be effective and too ‘written’ or scripted to be believable. Wood fills his shoes more functionally and often his fear seems so real, that it was taken out of another project. Young as he was, Wood has a plucky spirit that gives far more than this movie is worth. The Good Son is mostly stitched together from banal exterior shots, disembodying the camera to release it for awkward heights, and TV-style close-ups, constantly, of and for the two young boys. (Makes you wonder how much time the pair actually spent together during the actual filming and for the more dangerous scenes.) Like the Culkin character, it’s all a poor manipulation.
Directed by Joseph Ruben. With David Morse.Final Verdict: D.