THE MIGHTY is a well-intentioned, relatively clean movie for children, and concerns a friendship between a human giant boy and a human dwarf boy. Though the dialogue is sometimes too hokey, it is free of sex, foul language, smarty-pants kids, and various other Hollywood vices.
(B, L, V, D, M) Light moral worldview of friendship; 4 mild obscenities by adult characters only; mild violence including knife-wielding kid (the school bully), shoving implied & off-camera strangulation attempt; no sex; no nudity; implied smoking by an adult; no drinking; and, miscellaneous immorality including scary nightmare scene & kidnapping
THE MIGHTY is a well-intentioned, relatively clean movie for children that tries to appeal to adults as well. The movie focuses on a friendship between a human giant boy and a human dwarf boy. As much as it strains mightily to be likable, this movie somehow misses the mark.
Two seventh grade outcasts, Kevin, a handicapped genius, and Max, an oversized convict’s son with learning disability, become friends by compensating for one another’s weaknesses. Max serves as a healthy body for Kevin, nicknamed “Freak,” by carrying the handicapped boy on his shoulders, while Freak uses his superior intellect to tutor Max. Neither of the two boys have fathers at home, since Freak’s father left his mother upon learning of his child’s birth defect, and Max’s father is in prison for murder. Both boys, in a bizarrely adult conversation, pledge to defy their fathers’ harmful legacy and become heroes.
Oddly, THE MIGHTY is thematically similar to SIMON BIRCH. Both movies portray youthful misfits who become heroes. SIMON BIRCH attributes at least some of its protagonist’s heroism to the power of God, but THE MIGHTY, instead of invoking God, tries weakly to inject a certain mythical quality into its story with perpetual allusions to King Arthur. The characters have frequent visions of knights in shining armor and emulate Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. Ultimately the two youngsters become heroes through their own self-determination, and the film somehow seems empty as a result.
THE MIGHTY is half-hearted in other aspects as well. Its child stars vacillate between childish and unrealistically adult conversations. The immature talk often sounds stilted (Max’s poor grammar seems particularly forced), while the overly grown-up reflections that emanate from Freak are simply jarring. When Freak asks Max about his mother, Max responds innocently, “My mom’s in heaven.” In a later conversation, the two boys discuss their fathers’ poor example; Freak admonishes his companion that, while their fathers were reprehensible, “that’s not who we are.” The juxtaposition of pop-psychology “wisdom” and pre-adolescent remarks makes the entire movie uneven and constantly calls attention to its unreality. The viewer can never get lost in the story because his attention is so often diverted by these oddities.
As a further distraction, the movie’s dialogue is weak, and the young stars’ acting sometimes conjures visions of an elementary-school play. There are several cloying, formulaic scenes that try unsuccessfully to pluck at our heartstrings, such as a trite confrontation between Freak’s mother and the school principal who wants to “limit” her son. Whenever THE MIGHTY does actually begin to move its audience, it quickly descends into melodrama, robbing the audience of the emotions they were just starting to indulge.
THE MIGHTY is largely harmless and will probably entertain children over age seven or eight. A few scenes may frighten younger children. At one point in the film, Max’s father, Kenny “Killer” Kane, escapes from prison and kidnaps his son. Kenny later tries to strangle his friend Loretta (Gillian Anderson) when she attempts to help Max. The violence occurs behind a partition; only Loretta’s choking sounds can be heard. Regrettably, this scene and others, such as a nightmare scene in which Max’s father lurks in his bedroom, may appear in small children’s dreams as well.
THE MIGHTY should be commended for its good intentions, but good intentions are often not enough. This movie would have benefited from a little more intentional humor. Gillian Anderson misses a ripe chance to turn her role as Loretta into a campy delight and would do well with a little less unintentional artificiality. Still, it is refreshing to see a movie so free of sex, foul language, smarty-pants children, and various other Hollywood vices. THE MIGHTY is a fairly safe way for children to spend a couple of hours at the movies.
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