Two young boys, both social outcasts in their small town, form an unlikely friendship.Two young boys, both social outcasts in their small town, form an unlikely friendship.Two young boys, both social outcasts in their small town, form an unlikely friendship.
So says the imposing gentle giant Max (the excellent Elden Ratliff). He is a 13-year-old with a murdered mother and murdering jailbird father (James Gandolfini), who has twice failed 8th grade and lives with disgruntled grandparents Gram and Grim (the particularly morose Harry Dean Stanton and Gena Rowlands). It's a wonder he isn't Mad Max. However, he has a saviour. A minor miracle named Kevin Dillon (Kieran Culkin). Sounds cheesy, but The Mighty is anything but.
Peter Chelson, director of the inventive and original Funny Bones, has lovingly superimposed Rodman Philbrick's successful children's book Freak The Mighty to the screen. The result is as moving as any kiddies film you've seen in the last ten years.
Kevin is suffering from Morquio's syndrome, a progressively degenerative disease that makes him unable to walk without leg braces. However, the boy is a considerable intellectual giant trapped inside a small, fragile body. As luck would have it he is consigned to tutor Max in remedial reading. In the words of Bogart it's the start of a "beautiful friendship".
Kevin introduces the big guy to Arthurian legend. "Every word is part of a picture. Every sentence is a picture. All you do, is let your imagination connect them together. If you have an imagination that is," he says.
Inspired by the knights in the book, the boys invent a fantasy world in which honour is everything. Together, Max and Kevin set out to battle their foes, both real and imagined.
Do not be put off by the presence of a Culkin or the mention of King Arthur. The Mighty is sincere, without being turgidly earnest, and genuinely uplifting. Sharon Stone equips herself well as the distraught mother of Kevin, but can't quite convince us that she doesn't ooze glamour. The "bad" kids also do not quite fit, resembling the troublesome urchins in Bugsy Malone rather than vicious Cincinnati hoodlums. However, these are minor quibbles, for ultimately The Mighty is several notches above the average children's film.
- Jan 5, 1999