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Murray Journal

Dan's Review: "Green Book" an excellent example of brotherhood

Nov 27, 2018 12:12AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book - © 2018 Universal.

Green Book (Universal)

Rated PG-13 for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence, and suggestive material.

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimeter Marinov, Mike Hatton, Iqbal Theba, Sebastian Maniscalco, P.J. Byrne, Montrel Miller, Dennis W. Hall, Randal Gonzalez, and Maggie Nixon.

Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, and Peter Farrelly.

Directed by Peter Farrelly.



The “buddy” movie is a proven formula for movie success. You pair two people from diverse backgrounds or cultures and set them out on some sort of journey.  If you follow the formula correctly, the two individuals start out as bitter rivals but their shared struggles teach them to embrace their differences and draw strength from each other. Many times this formula can be cliché, but every once in a while you get a classic film with outstanding performances. Green Book, a movie based on a real story about a gifted musician and his chauffeur follows this formula and delivers one of those rare classics, rising above most "buddy" films.

Viggo Mortensen stars as Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, a bouncer working at New York’s famed Copacabana club. When the club closes for renovations in the late fall of 1962, Tony looks for work to keep food on the table for his two young sons and his wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini). Tony finds a job as a driver for Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), an African-American classical/jazz pianist on a tour of the Deep South. Tony is chosen for his ability to get rough when needed to protect Don should any trouble arise in the segregated parts of the country. Tony is given a “Green Book” that serves as a guide for “Negro travelers” to help avoid “whites only” hotels and restaurants. They set out on their trip as two men from distinctively diverse styles. Don is cultured and elegant, while Tony is crass, vulgar and prone to bend the rules to gain his desired results. When the pair hits the South, Tony’s eyes are opened to the conditions in play at the dawn of civil rights reformation, while Don learns a thing or two about himself. As they travel deeper into the South, they are met with increased racial tension. By the end of the tour, the men are close friends, but will they be able to continue their relationship back in New York?

Green Book is a fantastic film featuring two outstanding performances from Mortensen and Ali. Their chemistry is perfect for a movie that could have easily gone too far into sentimentality or false platitudes. The setting and racial issues are tackled with grace and beauty while featuring some compelling music.

Green Book is also a perfect display of racial harmony in a contemporary world that seems bent on driving a wedge between diverse cultures. If we can learn anything from these two buddies, perhaps we can learn to continue this rough and complicated journey and arrive closer, rather than further apart. 

Green Book Trailer