In theory I love it when critics say they go into every movie wanting it to be good - who wants to waste their time? I sat through an excruciating movie a couple of days ago that I hated practically every single moment of and let me tell you what - it weren't fun. I wasn't even looking forward to writing a blistering take-down of it by the end - I just wanted to run for the exit like the air had filled with bleach fumes. That said the theory doesn't always hold - sometimes you go into a movie with a predisposition. A nattering little critter on your shoulder whispering sweet no-thank-yous.
Well after I watched the trailer for Green Book one of those little fellas had come strolling out of my shirt collar and set up a folding chair right beside my ear-hole. He'd tap tap tapped on his mobile micro megaphone, did his never-funny Tom Hanks "Sibilance... sibilance..." routine, and got to work. "Oh no," he whispered. "Oh no, that Driving Miss Daisy shit ain't for you, big fella. Look the other way! Run! Avoid!"
Dude was wrong though, and about halfway through the movie he was forced to pack up all of his belongings and hike it to the next theater over (the one showing Instant Family, no doubt). Green Book ain't David Bowie, heck it's not even Jonathan Rhys Meyers' false eyelashes, but it's a milkshake at the sock hop and sometimes that's just what the tummy ordered. I felt stuffed, somewhat weak with sugar fits, but humming a happy enough tune to sleep well after.
It worked better for me than the last Oscar Bait stab at a Middle-America Friendly Racism Romp Hidden Figures did, anyway. They're both broad as barn doors in a tornado breeze, but writer-director Peter Farrelly knows how to manage that register better than Hidden Figures director Theordore Melfi did - anybody who wrangled Jim Carrey on full-blast would have to. And its some big roomy boots that Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have been entrusted with here, plenty a' wiggle with those accents, those frills - reining in is vital. Farrelly managed the neat trick.
Oh there's not a moment that will really surprise you here, it was all written before you were born and after you died, an eternal tale as old as time of coin sides finding shared ground - a penny's ridged edge of commonality, faces long ago etched in bronze and silver, shining bright. But it feels good under your finger, sturdy and hard, true in that untrue but you know, true enough sense, always worth something despite whatever. It'll sit and hold your hand for awhile.