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Plot Device

The Good Son

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The Good Son




A very young Elijah Wood stars as a troubled pre-teen boy grieving over the recent death of his mother. His father reluctantly leaves him behind with cousins while he goes to Japan on business. Wood makes friends with his same-aged cousin played by Macaulay Culkin who turns out to be a brilliant yet secret sociopath. As Culkin diabolically frames Wood again and again for his own heinous crimes, including cruelty to animals and causing a multi-car pile up, Wood pleads to his non-spiritual, yet cooingly sympathetic child psychologist that it's really Culkin who has been doing these things, and that the boy is "evil." She kindly smiles and says: "Oh, but I don't believe in evil." To which Wood replies in a simultaneously dark yet frightened tone: "You should."

The film never once mentions God or any form of spirituality EXCEPT for that one crucial exchange between Wood and the psychiatrist. It instead very cleverly points out how things can go alarmingly wrong on a moral level when a child (Culkin) is raised by loving parents who provide a nice home, a good education, and yet only choose to teach him about facts and science (the kind of science that does NOT believe there's such a thing as evil), foolishly assuming that compassion and character will arise naturally as an incidental bi-product of their own love. The total vacuum of any overt moral teaching leaves open the gateway for the boy to flourish in the capacity of finely calculated evil. He was taught from a very early age to think with accuracy and precision, and he uses those skills with lethal success.

The film is an excellent treatise on the doctrine of the inherent evil of mankind, and a compelling argument for actively training children in morality --and possibly even religion and spirituality-- starting at a very young age.

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