Director: Peter Farrelly
Release Date: November 16, 2018
In a mere 130 minutes of run time, Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen successfully end racism forever. Racism is no longer a thing.
Our story follows an Italian American Tony Lip (Mortensen)who is temporarily laid off from his job as a bouncer at a local night club. Looking for a job to provide for his family and to avoid being an enforcer for the mob he accepts a job as a driver for an African-American pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Ali) for his two month tour in the Deep South.
The title of the movie comes from The Negro Motorist Green Book which was an annual guidebook for African-American travelers during the era of Jim Crow laws. Tony and Dr. Shirley travel with this book and often use it to find places where Dr. Shirley was welcome to stay the night as most towns in the south at the time didn’t allow African American’s to sleep in the same hotels as whites.
The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before as it appears to be on the surface just another “the white guy learns that racism is bad” movie. Although it does have those moments which is to be expected, what makes this movie work is the growth of the friendship between our two main characters.
The dynamic seems to be that of student and teacher as Dr. Shirley helps Tony write letters home to his wife, as Tony has the reading level of a 4th grader. Where the real lessons are learned are through the experiences they face on the road. From Dr. Shirley not being allowed to use the bathroom in the house that he is performing to not being allowed to eat in the same room as whites, Tony is given a first-hand look at how racism is bad.
The highlight of Green Book is the performances of our two leads Mortensen and Ali. Mortensen is charming in his role in which he had to put on 45 pounds as his character was the 1906’s version of Joey Chestnut. Ali showed great range with his whit, humor and ability to show how deeply troubled his character was. The on screen chemistry of the two works perfectly as their relationship grows naturally and they play off one another perfectly.
With a narrative that can grow boring with a 130 minute run time director Peter Farrelly does a good job of keeping the audience’s attention. The pace is sharp and never seems as if the movie is dragging along.
Despite having all the makings of corniest movie of the year written all over it Green Book wins over the audience with the growth of the friendship between Tony and Dr. Shirley. With jokes that keep rolling steady throughout and lessons on friendship and empathy Green Book is your perfect movie to take the whole family to go see this Thanksgiving week.