Title – Green Book (2018)
Director – Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber)
Cast – Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
Plot – Based on the true story of the unlikely friendship between Italian American bouncer and driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Mortensen) and African American pianist Don Shirley (Ali) who become close companion on a journey to America’s deep south in the early 1960’s due to a series of concerts Shirley has been booked for.
“The world’s full of lonely people afraid to make the first move”
Review by Eddie on 05/02/2019
One of the least surprising film’s you’re likely to watch from this year’s awards season heavy hitters, as this is a trip we’ve taken in different variations many times before, Green Book is still an undeniably fun piece of Hollywood entertainment that will leave you with a big smile upon your face once the credits begin to roll.
The very definition of a feel good film, with a well-worn but never the less important message, Green Book sees Dumb and Dumber and Something About Mary co-creator Peter Farrelly graduate from low-brow comedy to tell the true-life story of Italian nightclub bouncer Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and black American pianist Dr. Don Shirley’s unlikely friendship, as the two mismatched souls take a cross-country journey to the deep south of America when Vallelonga takes up a job as Shirley’s driver and bodyguard on a concert tour in the early 1960’s, when racial prejudices still ran rampant.
It’s one of those stories that’s quite clearly been exaggerated and Hollywoodized but it doesn’t make Farrelly’s film any less entertaining thanks to the experienced filmmakers assured handling of the material, that includes one of recent memories most assuredly witty scripts, with the banter between Viggo Mortensen’s uneducated but well-meaning Vallelonga and Marershala Ali’s upper-class and serious Shirley producing some brilliantly realised moments of comedic brilliance that also acts as a fine showpiece for these two actors skills.
Green Book is arguably one of the lightest and easy to digest movies of Mortensen’s career and while there’s been some controversy surrounding the portrayal of Shirley after his family members have spoken about the film, Mortensen and Ali make for one of the most enjoyable double acts in some time and when two actors connect so well together and with the material, it goes a long way to elevating whatever movie they’re in, which is certainly the case with this road-trip drama.
These two certainly help you overcome some slightly cringe-worthy and somewhat eye-rolling moments, like a fried chicken bonding experience or a night-out at local African American bar and make some of the films more poignant moments really stick, as the two begin to become more than just business associates and build an understanding of each other’s trials and adversities.
With the film becoming such an audience favourite and even a potential Oscar winner, it’s to be expected that a fair share of naysayers have made their way out of the wood work to justify why Farrelly’s film is undeserving of any awards love but there’s a reason why the formula at the heart of Green Book has been utilised so many times before, as when it’s done as well as this, you just go along for the ride and enjoy the time spent with these likeable, flawed and realistic characters. It’s unlikely that Green Book is a definitive or even 100% accurate portrayal, but it doesn’t dilute the core messages, wit and heart on display.
Final Say –
A feel good movie that’s quite simply a joy to watch, there might not be any shake-up of the well-worn road trip/mismatched duo formula but with a razor sharp script and some awards worthy performances, Green Book quickly becomes a charming and loveable trek across 1960’s America.
4 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken out of 5