Even if you’ve never seen the movie before, it’s impossible to deny the magnitude of Home Alone’s status as a cinematic classic. It really has transformed into an icon of popular culture over what is now nearly three decades, and at the heart of it lies Macaulay Culkin’s performance as Kevin McCallister. It’s easy to forget that Culkin even had a career outside of the character, but he has. It’s had gaps and periods of feast and famine, but there’s an often-fascinating back catalog of movies starring the adorable actor waiting to be discovered or re-examined. Here are ten movies that you forgot Macaulay Culkin was in after Home Alone.
10 Only the Lonely
In-between the first two Home Alone movies, director Chris Columbus released a much smaller romantic comedy about John Candy’s lovable Chicago cop looking for love on the verge of forty. Culkin only appears in a brief cameo, and he’s easy to miss, but don’t let that dissuade you if you have any interest. Only the Lonely is a borderline hidden gem.
The movie centers around the relationship between Candy’s character and his elderly Irish mother, played by Hollywood Golden Age icon Maureen O’Hara0151returning to the screen after a twenty-year absence. It's sweet, easygoing, and often emotionally genuine. Only the Lonely is not only one of Candy’s best movies, but arguably one of Columbus’ too, which is saying something for the man who birthed the Harry Potter movie franchise.
9 The Nutcracker
A filmed version of the New York City Ballet’s then-current production of the classic Christmas tale. Culkin appears as the titular Nutcracker prince and, it has to be said, he does a pretty solid job of tackling his choreography. It doesn’t appear like he’s going to do much more than stand there at first but, after a while, he becomes more and more incorporated into the sequences. Holding his own in a mix of world-class dancers.
Not the most riveting cinematic experience ever, particularly to a child, The Nutcracker is not without its charm and Kevin Kline’s friendly narration eases any potential confusion. If you’ve never seen the ballet before, it’s actually not a bad introduction to it. The movie’s a thoroughly conventional ninety minutes, the sets and choreography are all as terrific as you’d imagine, and, if nothing else, it’s a pretty fun exercise in “Oh, so that’s where that song comes from.”
8 My Girl
An all-around memorable movie to those who’ve seen it, My Girl is often forgotten as a Macaulay Culkin movie due to the strength of the rest of the movie’s cast, and maybe because of its heartbreaking ending. The movie is a certifiable kids movie classic that benefits from a surprising level of emotional and thematic depth, as well as an even more surprising level of restraint.
It follows the summer of 1972 for 11-year-old Vada Sultenfuss as she learns about love and loss in suburban Pennsylvania. Culkin plays her adorable best friend, Thomas J., and it’s perhaps the cuteness of Culkin’s performance that makes people forget it’s him. Culkin was often typecast as a kid with wisdom beyond his years, so it’s disarmingly unusual to see him just playing a regular child.
7 Getting Even with Dad
Not just one of Macaulay Culkin’s most forgettable movies after Home Alone, or even one of his most forgettable movies ever—Getting Even with Dad is one of the most forgettable movies of the 90s, so don’t feel bad for either not remembering it or for missing out. Believe us, you definitely didn't.
The story follows Ted Danson’s small-time crook heisting a shipment of rare coins only for them to be swiped by his young son, played by Culkin, who hides them and extorts his deadbeat dad into finally spending time with him. On paper, this sounds like a decent set up for comic hijinks, but it’s really the most generic version of the Family Caper movie that the era had to offer.
6 The Pagemaster
Macaulay Culkin’s second movie of 1994, after Getting Even with Dad, is a lot more memorable. The short, half live-action/half animated, movie clocks in at seventy-five minutes total, and that’s with lengthy credits. The actual story barely breaks past the hour mark, but the simple tale of a timid young boy literally sucked into an animated world of classic literature isn’t without impact.
The talented voice cast—including Star Trek alums Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, and Leonard Nimoy—coupled with some colorful animation and a sweeping score, make it feel like something that people actually put effort into... in parts. It’s an unhealthy generic-brand snack of a movie, but one that’s worth indulging in just so long as nobody sees you doing it.
5 Richie Rich
The third and final movie of Macaulay Culkin’s 1994 heyday—he was nominated for Worst Actor at that year’s Razzies for all three movies and subsequently took a near-decade-long break from acting—is, like The Pagemaster, more memorable thanks to some wacky production design. This was afforded by an appropriately overinflated budget and the character’s comic book origins.
If you’re unfamiliar with the original comic book character, imagine Batman, except nothing ever really goes wrong for him. He has the lab and the mansion, just nothing to really do with it. When Macaulay’s young heir to the Rich family empire is thrust into leadership of his father’s company, all manner of antics ensue involving robot bees and a Hitchcock-inspired finale on top of a personal Mount Rushmore. With added giant laser cannon, of course.
4 The Good Son
Did you ever imagine, in your youth, a movie where a 12-year-old Elijah Wood was forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a 12-year-old serial killer version of Macaulay Culkin? Well, the good news is that you’re perfectly sane and you didn’t imagine this disturbing story. The bad news is that the movie actually exists.
The Good Son is a truly bizarre movie on every level imaginable. It really does have to be seen to be believed. Someone could tell you about the scene where Macaulay Culkin, fresh off of the Home Alone movies, gives angelic Elijah Wood a death stare and says, in absolute earnest, “Don’t f*** with me.” But you wouldn't actually believe it until you saw it. How this got made, from a screenplay written by acclaimed British novelist Ian McEwan, no less, really is anyone’s guess.
An often-overlooked gem of the coming-of-age genre, Saved! focusses on Jena Malone’s Evangelical teenager as she deals with an unplanned pregnancy in her final year of high school. Culkin plays a forlorn, paraplegic friend who’s even more at the mercy of Mandy Moore’s overbearing perfect princess than Malone's character, and every performance in the movie is pretty great for what amounts to a teen sex comedy.
Saved! deals with faith, disability, teen pregnancy, dogmatism, and homophobia all in a tasteful and considerate way. It would come to be overshadowed in the mid-2000s by bigger, slightly less edgy, crowd-pleasers like Mean Girls—released only a few months later—but it’s stayed sweet and funny over the years, and it’s just as relevant today as it was back in 2004—potentially even more so.
2 Sex and Breakfast
Sex and Breakfast is as small in scope and audience appeal as real indie movies made in Los Angeles usually are, so it’s no surprise to anyone if you haven’t seen it. But that’s also because most people who have seen it have then tried to forget it. If you had to sum Sex and Breakfast up in a word, then that word would probably be obnoxious. Its characters are obnoxious, their conflicts—and resolutions to them—are obnoxious. The soundtrack is obnoxious.
The movie follows two comfortably middle-class couples—though it’s never revealed what any of them do—living in LA and going through sexual troubles. They decide to remedy them through “group sex therapy”, which basically seems to be a partner-swapping dating company masquerading as psychological counseling. This results in you seeing an extended foursome scene involving Macaulay Culkin, and it is every bit as uncomfortable as you would imagine it to be.
1 Party Monster
The real diamond in the rough of this list, Party Monster is an adaptation of James St. James’ 1999 memoir Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland which centers on his relationship with Manhattan club scene legend Michael Alig, played in Party Monster by Culkin.
Culkin is terrific in the movie, which might have something to do with his performance of Alig feeling like the classic smart aleck character that made Culkin famous. But he’s unfortunately overshadowed by Seth Green delivering what might be the best performance of his career thus far. The movie is very interestingly shot and fantastically edited, with its main drawback being its inappropriately humdrum score. It’s an intentionally trashy movie, and consistently entertaining because of it.