Green Book (2018)

Two excellent actors doing great work with what material they’re given isn’t enough to make this would-be feel-good throwback to 1980s style racism morality tales (if one white person can overcome their racism towards one black person, racism is solved!) heartwarming in the way it so clearly wishes to be. It’s no surprise that director Peter Farrelly could bring his road trip buddy comedy strengths to the film, and in isolation a lot of the central character dynamic works when it’s compounded by the absurd talent of the two leads, but the story itself is so cloying and reductive and cheap that the whole thing just stings. Still, that scene where Viggo Mortensen stuffs his face with a pizza he folds like a sandwich isn’t something I’ll soon forget.

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The film actively takes the least real path every chance it gets, relegating its most interesting character to a needlessly supporting role, and telling a ridiculously incoherent tale of racism with its true lead. From one so disgusted with black people that he’d throw away anything they’d touched in his house, to one gleefully embracing him and magically curing his own family of racism in the process, all in the span of two months. Films like this might succeed in making people like the lead, and the director, and the writer feel good about racism, but I question whatever else they do or don’t accomplish. A waste of two incredible actors. One and a half discarded glasses, and a titular book, mentioned once or twice, and then never again.

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