I have a business card for Occasional Popcorn and on the back I list my top 5 all-time favorite movies: Dumb & Dumber, Spotlight, Count of Monte Cristo, Shawshank Redemption, The Prestige. Why do I tell you this? Because after watching Green Book I honestly may need to update and reprint my business cards. Green Book really is that good. It's definitely a Top-10 all-time for me. In fact, the first time I watched Green Book in theaters (December 2018) I almost doubted I enjoyed it that much. I withheld writing my review until I was able to watch it again (March 2019). And now here I am on my third time of watching it (April 2019) and I'm still totally enthralled and amazed. So, what made it so great for me? Keep reading to find out...
By now everyone knows Mahershala Ali is on fire. And he only fanned the flame in Green Book for his fans and those who are learning about him for the first time. His cadence, tone, mannerisms - they're perfect. He is the exact person needed for the role of Dr. Shirley. A wonderful surprise of a character is Dolores, played by Linda Cardellini. She keeps Tony (Viggo Mortensen) sane and she adds true charm to the story. And then there is Tony, Viggo Mortensen. I didn't even recognize him. He seriously embodied Tony - I'm sure it was emotional for the family to watch (for Tony's son to be on set). Every aspect of his character seemed to be researched - the idiosyncrasies that are often missing in other movies. The thing that make him human (accent, sounds, eating habits) it's perfection in creating a character.
The Morality of the film is possibly my favorite part. You have Tony who is as grey as grey can be and you have Dr. Shirley who is brutally black and white. They clash so hard it hurts...and then it makes you laugh. There is a good amount of cursing: racist comments and violence. It's not for young kids, but it's definitely worth watching if you have older/teenage kids as it sets up great conversations on racism, honesty, friendship, personalities, and work ethic.
The music of the film, besides Tony talking, is Dr. Shirley playing the piano with his trio. It's great.
This film reminds you of what a beautiful story well told can do. It's so precise. Tony needs a job for a couple months and out of all the jobs he could get he becomes the driver for an African American star pianist. Tony has mild racism in his blood, and it comes out, but he equally has a unique way of seeing the world. His perspective and bombastic approach, especially when contrasted with Dr. Shirley, offers many hilarious moments. Yet although the story is light-hearted and enjoyable the whole way through it is equally deep and heartfelt, something so challenging to do. The film could've gone off on so many random tangents, but boldly keeps its focus as a road trip between two unbelievable friends.
They did what they needed to do. They had great locations, good time pieces, and they told the story so well through visuals. They let the actors lead in their emotion and chemistry. Specifically, the car scenes, which feel so surreal because it was like watching a remake of Dumb and Dumber at times (same Director by the way), but those scenes were so well shot because they feel so honest.
I loved Green Book so much that I immediately looked up what people didn't like about it. I read things like the actual green book was barely mentioned/used or that the story was told through the lens of a white man (Tony) and really doesn't look through Dr. Shirley's perspective. Both of these things are true, but I disagree that means the movie is less deserving of its many accolades. I will say the first 5 minutes of Green Book is rocky - all three times that I've watched it, I'm trying to figure it out, but it's just weird in its pacing, set up, and timeline. That being said, Green Book is a movie that our country needs. It goes right at the heart of a tough issue and balances heart with laughter so well. Not to mention, it doesn't aim to change the characters overnight (a flaw of so many redemptive movies), instead it very subtly but powerfully moves change in the heart and actions of the characters. It's beautiful. I'll never forget the KFC scene in the car - it's pure gold and it's worth watching Green Book just to experience the hilarity and perfect character chemistry of this scene.