Written by: Charles Leavitt, based on the novel Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Elden Henson, Kieran Culkin, Gillian Anderson, Harry Dean Stanton, Sharon Stone
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
It’s movies like this that make all the other crap I’ve had to wade through this year almost worth it. Max (Henson) is literally a gentle giant in the seventh grade (for his third crack at passing the year) and a pacifist though he doesn’t know what that means. The boy is with a great largeness, and I mean he’s built like a truck. He generally keeps himself to himself and doesn’t want to make waves, cause trouble, or even live it almost seems like. Then a woman (Stone) moves next door with her son, Kevin (Culkin). Kevin seems like a junior Stephen Hawking in the brain department, and like the illustrious Dr. H, his body isn’t working so good. He has a degenerative illness that retards his bone growth while his internal organs all keep right on going. He’s in a leg brace and crutches. But still he’s courageous and takes his cues from King Arthur, wanting to be chivalrous and go about accomplishing good deeds. The movie relates how these two misfits become partners and even to a degree a single entity, which they dub “Freak the Mighty,” and how together they’re able to bring to the table what the other is lacking. As Kevin puts it, Max needs a brain and Kevin needs legs. What a deal, right?
[ad#longpost]What a deal, indeed. We get a story that deals (and deals well) with the misfits that everyone feels like to one degree or another during adolescence and how many kids escape inside their own heads, becoming super heroes, explorers, or even Knights of the Round Table. Providing the leads in this story are Henson and Culkin, both giving excellent performances. Henson’s vulnerability despite his imposing size is endearing, while Culkin’s wiseass attitude makes him the kind of friend you wish you had in middle school. Culkin needs to keep it up and he’ll come out from behind his older brother, which I want to see happen. Henson I just want to see in something else soon. Very impressed. Also impressing me were the supporting performances. Stone is all right in what amounts to a top-billed cameo as Culkin’s mom, Stanton and Rowlands are good as Henson’s grandparents, and Gillian Anderson stands above the rest as a piece of trailer trash that is so far removed from Scully I had trouble believing it was her. That and she’s Meat Loaf‘s wife. Sweartagod. Anyway, all of this adds up to a tearjerker that isn’t shallow and obvious about pulling the emotions out of you, and can actually be viewed more than once without blowing its shelf life. A fine piece of work.