"The Green Mile"
Directed by Frank Darabont.
Written by Frank Darabont. Based on the novel by Stephen
Starring Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, Gary Sinise and David
Release Year: 1999
Review Date: 12/12/99
So, Derwin "Jigga" Hylton and I were hanging
out at what turned out to be the biggest party on the east coast
Saturday night, Chuck & Justin's 1999 Christmas Throwdown--checking
out the ladies, a little wink here, a little hip-shake there--and
Derwin says to me, "Yo man, I got this movie I think you're gonna
like." So I say Oh yeah, what, and he says "The Green Mile" and I
say, Yeah? And he says
"It was the best movie I've ever seen."
No sarcasm, no crazy hyperbole in his voice,
simply matter of fact. Like he was saying "The sun is yellow" or
"Going to work sucks" or "I don't understand why Catherine
Zeta-Jones would ever date Michael Douglas"—all facts that don't
need explanation. So I thought to myself, Damn, if Derwin thought
that, I need to go and check this shit out!
And, even though Chuck and I somehow got
fifty folks to come out to our apartment on Saturday night, I
couldn't find a single soul to see this movie today, so I trucked
over to the multiplex by my lonesome. Some people can't handle even
the thought of seeing a movie by themselves--the "embarrassment" of
sitting by themselves for three hours to see a movie, or admitting
to themselves that yep, it's true: they don't have any friends.
Me, I love it (at least, every so often), because I know that movies
don't always have to be a large gathering of friends in order to be
a good time.
Let me start this review, then, by saying
this: I read "The Green Mile", a six-part serial novel by Stephen
King that was released a couple of years ago, and I thought that it,
besides his book "The Stand", was the best book he had ever done.
This is important, because it is very hard watching book-to-movie
projects when you have read the book and have a love and great
understanding of the text and are hoping to see most of that
translated on the screen.
By all accounts, the movie brings home the
bacon. The story--involving a Depression-era prison where a death
row supervisor (Tom Hanks) experiences a miracle at the hands of a
convicted killer (Michael Clarke Duncan) and so much more--is almost
entirely intact from the book and is brought to life beautifully by
the same director that brought us "The Shawshank Redemption", as
many of you know another Stephen King story. The acting by all of
the actors in this movie--and there are too many to count, to be
honest—is beyond superb, especially Duncan, who must have had a
tough time continually summoning the emotions necessary to do some
of these scenes. Cameos by Gary Sinise and Graham Greene are
strong, and the performance by Doug Hutchison (playing Percy
Wetmore, the bad guy in this movie) is oily and whiny and mean and
absolutely perfect. Percy's character in the book is exactly what I
envisioned he would be as portrayed in this movie. Both Hutchison
and Duncan's performances (and one would assume, Hanks', since he IS
Tom Hanks) could and should net them Oscar nominations.
I hesitate to tell you more about the plot,
since none of the developments in the movie were a surprise to me
but they were clearly a surprise to the audience in my theater.
But, I will say that one of the things that I loved about the book
was how much research King had done on executions during that era,
and that is portrayed well in this movie too...and, the executions
in the book were much, much, much more explicit than they are in
this movie, but don't think for a second that they are taken lightly
in the movie version. The second execution really got a lot of
people in my audience (for good reason), especially the kids that
were in the theater. Other than that, you should be cool on the "Do
I bring my anti-violence girlfriend to this movie?" quotient, with
not much else being a problem.
But, you know what I love most about
movies? It's crying. This movie's last, oh, 70 minutes are
chock-full of emotional scenes, and there was so much crying going
on in my theater by the end, you could just look around and see guys
comforting girls, girls comforting guys, guys taking their glasses
off to wipe away tears, wet tear-sniffle sounds from around the
theater, and my favorite: guys trying to fight back tears. I love
the way guys try and fight back tears! Guys, you know EXACTLY what
I'm talkin' about, too...your spouse/girlfriend/$200-an-hour call
girl is sitting next to you, and things are getting tight, but you
aren't gonna give in, no matter what. So, you are working those
sinus and tear muscles like it's on your business card. You're
thinking, "I'm not gonna cry, cause if I do, I'm gonna have to hear
'Are you ok, honey?' the entire ride home!" But of course, when you
get out of the theater, your eyes are all red, and so now, not only
does your spouse/girlfriend/hooker know that you WERE crying, but
everyone you went to the movie with knows that you were crying!
It's lose-lose, baby! I didn't cry this time because, luckily, I
knew what was going to happen. But, many of you won't be so lucky!
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard