In honour of the recently released Hanna (2011) I thought I'd take a moment today to recognize Children in Cinema. Now, typically stuffing some wiener kid in the middle of an action flick is terrible - they whine and bitch and just slow things down. I'm thinking of War of the Worlds (2005), The Phantom Menace (1999), Superman Returns (2006), Mercury Rising (1998) and just about anything with Haley Joel Osment and the entire cast of the first two Harry Potter movies (especially Rupert Grint - stop shitting yourself, kid).
Yet there are a handful of movies I think with some great kids that actually contribute to the story without so much irritation that gets in the way. For the purposes of this article I'll try to leave out "Kid-Centric" movies like The Sandlot (1993) and Little Giants (1994). Let's begin.
#5: Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) in Home Alone (1990)
I have actually seen this brat in a few "Worst Kid" lists (like this one, whose only real complaint is Culkin's later drug issues - he's a child actor! Of course he's going to have drug issues!) but I find his performance relatively tolerable. He's a bit of an asshole (Possibly more so in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York ), not that cute and plays well tormenting innocent men who only want to rob his home. Is that so wrong, really? The McCallisters can make do. Anyway, he gets the #5 spot from declining my need to punch him in the face after sustained viewing periods.
#4: Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) in Jurassic Park (1993)
I have also seen this pair on Worst-Of Lists, and in all reality Lex is dead weight until she inexplicably saves the park by understanding Unix. Other than that and a handy Velociraptor Twarting in the Kitchen she's mostly a screamer and a crier, which is awful. Tim on the other hand has that classic kid mentally - Dinos come to life and rampaging through an island is fucking awesome. Tho they both have their wiener moments they grow on Grant and the audience as well. They react as real kids instead of constantly whining and dragging down the action - instead shit keeps happening to them with no respite. Oooh Chaos at work Dr. Malcolm.
#3: Boo (Mary Gibbs) in Monsters, Inc. (2001)
This could have very easily have gone terribly - having this little cute animated kid in the middle of an eponymous Monster Movie seems terrible on paper. She works well though even though she does do a lot of crying and screaming she does just as much giggling and actually looks cute instead of infinitely creepy like some of Pixar's early work. Ugh that thing is terrifying. Boo is really endearing though and is integral to every part of the story of Monster's Inc., successfully being more cute than irritating. It's mostly that she's actually pretty well behaved if not just curious about a few things and with what could have easily turned into a two-hour "Baby on a Steel Girder" joke is actually a bit more. Yay.
#2: Hit-Girl (Chloe Mortez) in Kick-Ass (2010)
Absolutely the anti-cute annoying kid, she has a maturity beyond her years as exemplified by her swearing and killing skills. Regardless of how to feel about her actions or the integrity of this movie, Hit-Girl ain't a wiener kid and there's hardly a time when watching this film that you feel like you're even watching a little girl (Of course when you step back and realise it's a little girl you may be horrified...and call out bullshit on Mark Millar). She is very entertaining though and doesn't slow the story at all. Actually the characters around her need to slow her down.
#1: John Connor (Edward Furlong) in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
This kid isn't without his detractors, clearly, but I don't see any problemos with this dude. In fact I've already named him my favourite incarnation of John Connor and he's got more balls than Nick Stahl and more...things to do than Christian Bale. Sure he's a punk kid but he's a punk kid who already distrusts authority, knows how to survive on his own and manipulate machines and sustains a strong connection to humanity through his Mother and that Black Guy. He's a jerk-off but a young John Connor needs to be a jerk-off. Besides he handles himself pretty well considering how many people really want to kill him. I'm sorry...robots aren't people.
Bonus: Staying up late the other week watching terrible repeats on SyFy I managed to catch Stephen King's The Langoliers, a 1995 TV Miniseries that is far less cooler than this seems. It stars that dude from The Rock (1996), that other dude from Perfect Strangers and the faggiest little blind kid ever. All he does is complain and whine, he doesn't even complain about being blind, he just bitches about the air being stale and stuff. I loathe him. He needs the Robert Downey, Jr. treatment. Actually I think it's a girl. Ugh who cares, just die.
So that's that. Actually looking at this lot it seems like there aren't really any good kids in adult movies. Don't read into that. Don't get me started on that little wiener from Jerry Maguire (1996) either.