Thanks to his natural charisma, adorable appearance, and impressive work ethic, there was a period in the late-80s and early-90s when Macaulay Culkin was the world’s most bankable child star during which he appeared in a slew of blockbuster hits. Unfortunately, the immense pressure and scrutiny he was under, coupled with some personal troubles, including a fraught relationship with his parents, forced Culkin out of the limelight in 1994.
Since then, Culkin’s appearances in the public eye have been brief and irregular, including some roles here and there in a few independent movies and a short stint in the bizarre comedy rock band The Pizza Underground. Now, father to a young girl and publisher and CEO of satirical pop culture website and podcast Bunny Ears, following a tumultuous period in his life, it looks as if things are seemingly a little less rocky for the former child star these days, having made a much talked about appearance in last year’s American Horror Story: Double Feature. Here, we look back over his impressive career and rank the eight greatest Macaulay Culkin movies.
8 Richie Rich
Loosely based on the comic book series of the same name, Richie Rich follows the exploits of the world’s wealthiest child as he tries to find companionship in a world of materialism and foils a plot to murder his parents at the same time. It’s a fun movie, which is probably appreciated more by a younger audience, and marked the end of Culkin’s run of childhood acting credits as, after, he took a prolonged hiatus before returning to the world of acting nearly a decade later as an adult.
7 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
After the huge success of Home Alone, it was almost inevitable that there was going to be a sequel. Following a fairly similar plot, this time around Culkin’s character is stranded alone in New York over Christmastime while his careless family vacations in Florida. With most of the original Home Alone cast reprising their roles, including the fantastic Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as the unlucky antagonists, who just so happen to be in New York as well, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is still great fun, featuring plenty of cartoonish violence inflicted by Culkin. It just lacked a little of the impact and originality of the first film and ultimately disappointed critics who had hoped to see the franchise taken to new heights.
6 Party Monster
Party Monster is based on the shocking true memoirs of James St James, which outlines his friendship with Michael Alig (played by Culkin), a drug-addled rave promoter in New York who was eventually arrested and charged with the murder of Andre ‘Angel’ Melendez. The movie was particularly interesting as it was Culkin’s first performance after a prolonged hiatus and his first as an adult. While it wasn’t a huge hit with the critics, Culkin’s performance was praised by some as being powerful and fearless, and showed the world a little glimpse of what the actor might be capable of as an adult.
5 The Pagemaster
A hugely underrated gem that went relatively unnoticed at the time, The Pagemaster sees a live-action Culkin become animated as he’s sucked into a world of adventure, horror, and fantasy in a closed library he has managed to get into to avoid a storm. An intriguing premise that was made even better thanks to the presence of a great voice cast including Christopher Lloyd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Patrick Stewart.
4 My Girl
My Girl stands out among Culkin’s earlier movies as a more tonally serious and touching movie in comparison to the usual comedies and family blockbusters he’s become known for. While still full of heart and humor, the movie touches on a few more realistic, and even unpleasant, themes and areas that at the time polarized critics, with the movie landing 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Needless to say, My Girl was a huge financial success and has gone one to be remembered as one of Culkin’s finest performances of the era.
3 The Good Son
The Good Son is another movie that moves away from Culkin’s usual family comedy affairs, but this time delves into far darker territory playing out as a psychological thriller. Starring alongside a young Elijah Wood, Culkin plays a deeply disturbed child who commits atrocious and sadistic acts whilst trying to shift the blame for his actions onto Wood’s character. It’s Culkin playing completely against type that makes the movie work so well. Audiences are treated to a rare glimpse of the cold calculating psychopathic Culkin, which was alluded to in the Home Alone franchise.
2 Uncle Buck
An absolute classic comedy starring Culkin in one of his earliest roles alongside the late great John Candy, Uncle Buck sees Candy’s character, a hard-living bachelor, having to babysit his brother’s rebellious teenage daughter and her younger brother and sister while the parents are away. While not the most original concept, Candy’s delivery is flawless and the hilarious script written by the legendary John Hughes allows each character to shine, with Culkin himself leaving a particularly impressive performance, no doubt leading to his casting in future blockbuster hits.
1 Home Alone
By far Culkin’s biggest and most beloved feature film, even more than 30 years since its release, Home Alone remains a staple of any family’s Christmas viewing. Culkin plays eight-year-old Kevin whose family accidently leaves him alone as they depart for a Christmas vacation. What starts off as every kid’s dream, as he flagrantly flaunts the rules that were put into place by his parents, soon becomes a nightmare as the house is hit by a pair of persistent robbers, and Kevin has to fend for himself. This is where he discovers his knack for particularly sadistic booby traps, which he sets up around the house. The hilarious cat and mouse action and cartoonish violence never fails to entertain, and Culkin’s well-timed humor and natural charisma cemented him as the planet’s most bankable child star.