Jon Avnet, 1994, US
Elijah Wood gets top billing, even over Kevin Costner, as a boy who builds a tree-house. The tree-house and his long-running feud with the kids of another family are a metaphor for war, and Vietnam in particular. ‘The War’ starts promisingly, although loaded with rites-of-passage clichés, such as The Summer That Changed Everything... The all-wise nostalgic voice-over... children dancing to songs a’la 'Stand By Me'... It also bears the flashbacks, dead friends and guilt of Vietnam movies. Costner is the Vietnam veteran, back from hospital and a breakdown, full of war stories that have driven him into pacifist principles. Costner ends up too earnest; ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ still offers the best “good dad of (Southern) peace” archetype, but unlike Atticus, this dad can still be relied upon to use violence when his son is threatened. And so many conservative mythologies are tediously re-enforced, such as the dead that become guardian angels and wishes that come true, etc.