'Green Book' is high-level mainstream entertainment [TIFF]

Green Book Trailer













"Green Book" is a movie that's directed by Peter Farelly, a filmmaker who, along with his brother Bobby, gave us such grossout classics as "Dumb and Dumber," and "There Something About Mary." Presenting "Green Book" at the world premiere in Toronto last night, Farelly, unsurprisingly, mentioned, that after 40 years in the industry, this was the first time he got to present one of his movies at a film festival. With "Green Book" he may have just delivered the most successful and rousing screening of any filmmaker this festival. 


The crux of the story has Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer for an Italian-American Bronx club, being hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class African-American pianist. Lip's job is simple, drive Don on a concert tour from NYC to the Deep South, where he must also act as bodyguard to safeguard the musician from any kind of potential racial hardships that might happen in Jim Crow-lawed states. 

 The screenplay, written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and, the real Tony Lip, Nick Vallelonga, feels genuine. It helps that their depiction of American racism during the 1960s blends incredibly well with the feel-good nature of the film. I'm usually not a a fan of safe entertainment, and this film no doubt should be considered just that, but "Green Book" is such a smoothly delivered experience that I can't see it not winning the hearts of American audiences when it's released on November 16th. 

Ali and Mortenson both deserve Actor nominations; Viggo brings real depth to the role of an Italian-American that could have easily delved into caricature; Ditto Ali who seems to be, at least on-screen, maybe in real-life as well, a virtuoso piano player -- his character is filled with restraint and an inner fight to sustain his dignity amidst the racial intolerance at hand. The relationship between the two characters is touching because of the camaraderie both share towards each other. Linda Cardellini, playing Viggo’s stay-at-home Italian wife, is terrific as well. 

The film feels like a blend of "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" and "Driving Miss Daisy," but I believe it's a better movie. It benefits from Farelly's years of experience in comedic timing, which is no surprise that it turns out to be the funniest movie of the year. "A Star Is Born" better watch its back, I think we may just have the TIFF audience winner. [B+]