Green Book is a film about Tony “Lip” (Viggo Mortensen) an Italian-American bouncer in New York who’s approached by Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) an African-American classically trained pianist, to be his chauffeur as he tours through the deep south in 1962.
It’s a buddy, road film that’s based on a true story. It’s a dramedy too, something that I never really thought worked on the big screen, but 2018 seems to be the year where movies just prove me wrong about previous opinions I’ve had (first biopics now dramedies? Will the next few movies prove that slashers and romantic comedies can be good again?). Here everything feels real, especially the characters, but how the characters interact with one another is really hilarious, and sometimes things are just so delightfully awkward that you’ll feel yourself laughing despite yourself. It’s the type of humor you might expect from director Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin) but it also feels amazingly real, something unlike most of Farrelly’s other movies. I’m glad to see him do something like this, just on the outskirts of his comfort zone, and it succeed so well as a film.
I like that his movie uses the “Buddy” formula to establish these two. They are exact opposites of each other. Tony is an Italian who doesn’t mind talking basically non-stop and knows who he is, first and foremost, and doesn’t mind explaining that to everyone around him at all times, meanwhile Dr. Shirley is a close-mouthed person with a deep internal life who’s true potential comes out whenever he plays the piano. He also knows what he’s particular to and is stubbornly against trying new things. So much so, instead of playing a game of stickball with other African-Americans in a “colored-only” motel, he leaves to get a drink at a bar but this only leads to even more problems. Still, watching these two play off of and learn from each other is very entertaining and exciting to watch.
+8: A very funny dramedy that uses the backdrop of 1962 to cover social issues that still affect us today
+1: Darn good acting all around
+1: Pretty good music too