GREEN BOOK REVIEW
Starring: Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali
Directed By: Peter Farrelly
Runtime: 2 hours 9 minutes
The real green book was a book of hotels that permitted black people to stay there during times of segregation. Omaha had two locations, the Broadview on 19th Street and The Patton on 11th. The movie Green Book surrounds a black entertainer being chauffeured around the Deep South by a white driver. It plays out like an odd couple road trip movie teaching you that racism is, in fact, wrong.
Viggo Mortensen plays Tony Lip, a New Yorker who has never left his Bronx neighborhood. He works as a bouncer at the Copacabana. He may or may not be trying to get out of a mob lifestyle. He’s looking for honest work to put food on the table for his family.
Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali plays Dr Don Shirley, a classically trained pianist who is the head of the Don Shirley trio. He embarks on a major tour of the Deep South and would like a driver slash personal assistant for the two month journey. Leaving his lavish apartment on top of Carnegie Hall.
Directed by Peter Farrelly, one half of the brotherly duo that brought you such Oscar-bait as Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal. No, I’m being serious. This movie is directed by the guy who brought you those movies. His latest movie, Green Book, is an bonafide Oscar candidate. It’s a lock for nominations in Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Original Screenplay.
The movie is shockingly funny. And not in the way Farrelly’s previous works are funny. It uses racial stereotypes for a number of its jokes, but it’s never laughing AT anyone. It’s more of a “look how dumb it is to be racist” sort of way. The movie works mainly because of the chemistry between the two lead actors. Mortensen and Ali are in most every scene together. Mortensen playing the working class slob while Ali takes the role of distinguished elite. The funniest Best Picture candidate in at least five years.
My one complaint about Green Book is that it handles racism in a very sanitized/Disney-esque sort of way. Something bad happens to a character and the white person had no clue this was happening. Then the black person educates the white person on how racism is a very real thing they have to deal with. It’s a very easy way to write racism into a story, everyone learns a lesson, and everything works out in the end. Which is perfect for the movie world, but doesn’t necessarily represent how things were or are in the real world. It’s a very minor problem in an otherwise delightfully entertaining movie. Some critics out there have a huge problem with this movie not being woke enough, but not everything has to be so serious…even racism. Kid gloves are the right choice sometimes.
Green Book works because we like our characters, we are given just enough back story to have reasons to root for their success. And it shows a logical growth between two people who become friends in this Reverse Driving Miss Daisy true story.
Mahershala Ali won an Oscar just two years ago for his all too brief appearance in Moonlight. He will become the second black actor to win multiple Oscars next year. FYI: Denzel Washington is the other. Ali is a very nice 69/20 favorite in Vegas to win Best Supporting Actor, a category he chose to enter after totaling his screen time versus Mortensen’s and finding out Viggo had seven more minutes than he did. So write that in your predictions book. Mahershala Ali wins Best Supporting Actor for his work in Green Book.
A heartwarming, endlessly entertaining movie that is sort of perfect for the holiday season. Teaching you to be kind to your fellow man without being overly preachy. The laughs are the overarching theme of this movie. Go outside of your echo chamber bubble, you might find out that people aren’t really as different as you thought they were.
On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It", I will vote See It. And I hope people do.
If you liked Hidden Figures, Remember the Titans, and Driving Miss Daisy you might enjoy Green Book
4.5 out of 5 stars
Perfectly acted, the right amount of message to keep the tone of the movie sugary sweet.