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The Green Mile

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Green Mile

Starring: Tom Hanks, Patricia Clarkson
Director: Frank Darabont
Rated: R
RunTime: 180 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: James Cromwell, Jeffrey DeMunn, Michael Duncan, Graham Greene, Bonnie Hunt, Christopher Joel Ives, Michael Jeter, David Morse, Gary Sinise

Review by John Beachem
3 stars out of 4

Allow me to point out one thing which some people in Hollywood seem to have forgotten. In order for a movie to be an Oscar contender, it doesn't have to be over three hours long. This is, in fact, one of those rare cases where one is happy that parts of the book were removed from the screenplay. That said, "The Green Mile" is still a great film, blending humor and drama in a nearly flawless manner.

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is the head guard of a death row strip in the 1930s. He and several other guards, including his friend Brutus (David Morse) run the prison efficiently but not harshly. However, the presence of a sadistic guard named Percy (Doug Hutchison) is throwing the situation into disarray. Enter John Coffey (Michael Duncan), a mountain of a man who brings yet more confusion to the prison with his apparent powers of healing. Edgecomb finds himself unable to believe that Coffey could possibly have killed the two little girls he was convicted of murdering. Coffey soon endears himself to the other guards to such an extent that they are uncertain if they will be able to carry out his sentence.

To start with, let me say that this isn't a particularly original film. Several characters, such as Percy and one of the prisoners, who is called "Wild Bill" (Sam Rockwell) are nothing more than cardboard stereotypes. The films conclusion isn't particularly surprising, and the identity of the killer who framed John Coffey isn't remotely unexpected. However, this isn't supposed to be a murder mystery, and it's not supposed to be a shocker like "The Sixth Sense". This is supposed to be an uplifting story filled with brilliant acting. On both counts, it delivers.

The acting here is certainly the film's highpoint. Tom Hanks is great, as always, but the real standout performances here come from Michael Duncan and the always underrated David Morse ("The Negotiator", "The Long Kiss Goodnight"). Duncan's portrayl of Coffey is flawless, especially considering that he could have easily played him as a living cartoon character. If David Morse is not granted a nomination for best supporting actor, this will be a true travesty of justice, similar to Tom Sizemore being passed over last year for his performance in "Saving Private Ryan".

Another spotlight stealer here is one of the cast's smaller members, Mr. Jingles. Mr. Jingles is a small mouse who is adopted by one of the prisoners, and eventually by the entire block. Mr. Jingles's antics may seem out of place at times, but they do add some much needed humor during some of the more depressing scenes. One thing I found rather interesting was the presence of two wonderful actors in what were really nothing more than cameos. James Cromwell makes an appearance as the prison warden, and Gary Sinise makes a very, very brief appearance as Coffey's lawyer.

The film's biggest weakness is really the running time. At over three hours, even the best film can seem to drag. "The Green Mile", being quite good, but not the best film, seems to crawl along at a snail's pace. This movie certainly isn't appropriate for children as there are several grotesque scenes and some very adult content. Be forewarned, you had best get plenty of sleep before seeing this or you may find yourself drifting off. This is not to say that the film is dull, quite the contrary, but it's simply hard to stay focused for so long. Overall, I give "The Green Mile" a recommendation and four stars.

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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now. * * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one. * * * - Okay movie, hits and misses. * * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do. * - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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