Green Book is a perfect example of why I need to get a quicker turn-around on my reviews. I watched this movie just prior to the Oscars and if I’d managed to review it then, I probably would have been able to just talk about the movie. Now, it feels like the controversy over this movie has absolutely blown up and there’s no such thing as a review of the movie anymore, just increasingly absurd think pieces. But I’m not falling for that.
Because, look, I loved this movie. Yes, the script is simplistic, but good-hearted, a kind of sincere puppy-dog enthusiasm for every point it scores against racism. But the script would certainly fall apart without the two lead performances here. Mortenson and Ali are absolutely brilliant in their roles; Mortenson leans into affable stupidity and Ali goes for a kind of pinched dignity, but they’re both operating full tilt doing their respective things. It’s the pure delight of this chemistry and a script that is surprisingly goofy at times, in a good way, I mean, that makes this movie just dash along at a nice fast pace. At the end of the film’s more-than-two-hour running time, it feels like you’ve just watched a movie a good thirty to forty minutes shorter and that’s very noteworthy. It’s just a movie that’s incredibly entertaining. Did it deserve to win Best Picture? No, of course not. Is it an insightful critique of American racism? No, of course not. Is it fun? Does it make a few salient points along the way? Is it worth watching, honestly, for the performances alone? Yes, yes & yes. Not every movie about race needs to be THE movie about race, if you know what I mean, and this is essentially a kind of buddy-roadtrip comedy-drama and if you view it that way, it’s easy to forgive it for the fact that it isn’t, you know, just as profound a statement on race as the movie made by Spike Lee, one of the great racial provacateurs. I mean, it never was going to be and I don’t think it needs to be criticized for not being a completely different movie. And, anyway, I still like Driving Miss Daisy. 4 stars.
tl;dr – great performances elevate an on-the-nose script; simplistic, but good natured and extremely entertaining. 4 stars.