Friday, October 2, 2009

Sleepover with the Enemy

“Evil is a word people use when they’ve given up trying to understand someone.”

When an actor feels like he’s being typecast or decides that he wants to win some awards, he plays gay. Macauley Culkin, hot off the runaway success of Home Alone and at his peak earning potential, was no exception to this rule. Thusly, The Good Son (1993) was born. The Good Son was written by Ian McEwan as an early-90s domestic thriller/woman in peril film. Only, somewhere along the line, Elijah Wood wound up playing the woman role.  Fabulous.

When I was about 9 years old, the boy who lived next door showed me his junk in a fort we made. Two days later he tried to kill me by throwing bricks at my face and we weren’t friends anymore. That’s pretty much what happens in The Good Son.

Elijah’s just lost his mother so he’s real raw, blaming himself and crying a lot. Naturally, this is the perfect time for his dad to pawn him off on his Aunt (who is also in a period of deep grief, having just lost her son in a mysterious bathtub drowning). 

Once Elijah makes a new friend in town, internationally renowned child star, Macauley Culkin, he feels much better.  Sometimes being celebrity adjacent makes people feel like they matter more. After your second party at Joyce Dewitt’s house, you learn that’s all a scam, but Elijah was still young.   Next thing you know, they stop going to school - they start going to the same stylist - Macauley shows Elijah how to eat a lobster and crank call CAA. They play tickle wars in a treehouse, they even see the same therapist. A classic bromance.  But when hormones start raging and there’s no place to put all that sexual tension, all good things must end. Three weeks later, they’re taking their confused dynamic out on small town New England: throwing dogs down wells and causing twelve car pile-ups on the freeway.  A regular Bonnie & Clyde! 

When Macauley’s blood lust grows out of bounds and Elijah’s aunt is too preoccupied with her hours standing on a precipitous cliff side staring out at sea and pontificating while her gay son is off on killing sprees, it’s up to our heroine, Elijah Wood, to take matters into his own hands.

Call me a faggot, but I just love a movie where parents send their kids to live far away! When this film works best, it plays like a 1940s women in prison film. There are genius moments, like when Elijah’s aunt slaps him square in the face on the ocean bluff and when Macauley looks at Elijah, takes a beat, and says “…don’t fuck with me.” Much like the Beyonce/Ali Larter epic, Obsessed, The Good Son’s final scene makes the entire film well worth the seventy-five minutes leading up to it.  Good, indeed.

When I was 12, this film was shot in my hometown.  They came to pick out extras for one of the big action scenes.  Finally! My big break. I still remember lining up on a Saturday morning at my now-abandoned and clearly haunted elementary school in Gloucester, MA.  I was at my absolute chubbiest and I would try to cover that up by wearing blousy silk tops like Parker Lewis who Couldn’t Lose. The casting people didn’t like me. It was an ice skating scene and they were afraid I’d crack the ice,  but then I wound up getting invited to Elijah Wood’s on-set birthday party because there were no kids his age around except the production designer’s daughter who was named Rosilyn and whom I was completely in love with. I invited her on a date to see Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but she brought another girl so it wasn’t a date.  In fairness, I didn’t have a crush on her as much as I just wanted to be her: star adjacent and visiting from Los Angeles, not stuck in small town New England. Elijah Wood went on to star in the Lord of the Rings movies and I have a horror blog so I guess everything works out in the end.

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