Dir; Peter Farrelly. Starring; Viggo Mortenson, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini. PG-13. Color. 130 min.
Sometimes you want to watch a feel good movie. That is why the Hallmark Channel exists. More often than not that particular genre is cheesy and unintelligent. Director Peter Farrelly (one half of the Farrelly Brothers from “There’s Something About Mary” and “Dumb and Dumber” fame) has crafted a filmgoing experience that deserves to be seen. Based on a true story, “Green Book” is something you can smile or even tear up at without feeling cheap in doing so. It hits the right notes and has a bit of substance beyond what one would normally expect.
Viggo Mortensen plays Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, a hard ass Italian-American bouncer working in New York in 1962. When the club he works at shuts its doors temporarily Tony is forced to look for new employment in order to put food on the table for his wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini) and their two children.
A “mild” racist in comparison to the times, Tony interviews for a driving job. The description is vague and Tony does not know what to expect as he walks into a decadent penthouse. Enter Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a renowned black pianist about to embark on an eight week concert tour throughout the midwest and the deep south. When Tony first meets Dr. Shirley you can see in his less cultured eyes as he thinks “Who invited the Negro”?
Dr. Shirley does not just need a driver but muscle as well. This tour will take place in some of the most racially charged areas in America and Tony Lip will be tasked with taking care of the safety of this gifted artist as well. After receiving the go ahead from his wife to leave the family for two months Tony and Don head out on the road.
I will not reveal anymore for two reasons. One, you and I both know where this is going to end. Two, there are a few unexpected developments along the way that one would not expect from a holiday-esque feel good movie such as this, which is what gives it such depth.
“Green Book” is well written and decently shot but benefits most from two key aspects; a phenomenal cast and an array of good musical performance sequences. Do I have to say that Viggo Mortensen is excellent yet again or can we all just accept that he’s amazing in every role at this point? Mahershala Ali has that strange talent, similar to a Frances McDormand or Ryan Gosling, where he can say so much on screen without having to utter a word. The piano performance scenes are breathtaking. It is clear Ali spent thousands of hours perfecting playing the insturment.
There are some flaws that keep this film from being great, mainly how racism is beaten into the audiences head like a sledgehammer. The scene you saw in the trailers where Mortensen introduces Ali to fried chicken because that’s what black people like is fun and innocent. It’s like making a joke about how middle America white people love guns and the flag. There is no mean spirited-ness about it. To follow the fried chicken scene with Dr. Shirley playing a concert at a plantation type mansion where literally every white person is dressed in white like Colonel Sanders is one of those “yeah I get it” moments. Hashtag white people bad.
That being said, “Green Book” is a movie nobody should be shocked by when it pulls on your heartstrings. While formula, it hits the correct notes theme wise. Ideas like learning from individuals you would never expect to be educated from in life. People growing into a better version of themselves no matter how set in their ways, and that goes for both sides of the racial line. In a year with white-washed movies that claim to be ethnically sensitive like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” (Yeah, both of those movies SUCKED, come at me), “Green Book” never ceases to be humanistic. Do not be ashamed to bring your tissues to this one.
Suck Factor: 1out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!