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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Mighty

A wonderful story about friendship and courage

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 22, 2000 -- This is one of those rare stories about friendship, overcoming adversity and courage that transcends the day to day mediocrity of ordinary film and televised entertainment. It grips you from its opening moments to its conclusion in an emotional choke hold. It simply won't let go.

It is about killers, criminals, bullies, small, mean-spirited people and people with the hearts of lions, people with broken bodies, but soaring spirits. At the center of it all is Maxwell 'Max' Kane (played by Elden Ratliff of "She's All That"), possessed of a giant, powerful body, but a weak mind. He shuffles along, slouching through life, trying to keep a low profile, avoiding confrontations. He is ashamed of his past. His father murdered his mother. He is being raised by his grandparents, Elton 'Elt'/"Grim" Pinneman (Harry Dean Stanton) and Susan "Gram" Pinneman (Gena Rowlands).

One day a new family moves into the duplex next door to Max. His new neighbor, Kevin Dillon (played by Kieran Culkin of "The Cider House Rules") has a body crippled by a terrible disease, but has a brilliant mind. Kevin becomes Max's tutor in school. Thrown together, the two form an unlikely and reluctant friendship. After a time, Max starts to carry Kevin on his shoulders. They become a new entity. Max is the muscle and Kevin the brains of the operation. Kevin dubs the new entity "Freak the Mighty."

Obsessed with King Arthur and the knights of the round table, Kevin convinces Max to become a noble knight and to give aid to those who need help. The two have adventures and come to the aid of those in distress. We begin to see knights in armor in the alleys and parks of the city. The city becomes magical in a way that is similar to "The Fisher King." Unfortunately, it doesn't last. Although tragedy strikes, the story ends on an optimistic note as lessons are learned and lives are transformed by the selfless acts of the brave knights.

Ratliff is wonderful as Max. He shows great emotional range. He carries the film, creating such a character that is immediately and strongly sympathetic, noble and dignified. He shows us his deep pain, but also shows a willingness to love others, despite his past emotional wounds. Culkin (brother of Macaulay Culkin) gives an excellent performance as Kevin. He is intelligent and noble, but also likes to cause mischief and is not above making cruel remarks at times. The supporting cast does an excellent job as well, including Sharon Stone as Kevin's mother, Meat Loaf as Iggy, a former cellmate of Max's father and Gillian Anderson (who looks very different than she does in "The X-Files") as Iggy's girlfriend. James Gandolfini is also excellent as Max's father.

Director Peter Chelsom of "Hear My Song" does a good job of mixing anachronistic fantasy into the film. Original music by Trevor Jones and songs featuring Sting are also effective. The story is adapted from the novel, "Freak the Mighty" by Rodman Philbrick. The story is very compelling and is emotionally powerful. If you don't get a lump in your throat watching this movie, you've got no pulse. This film rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)