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
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
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.
Feel free to e-mail with comments at: JABII@aol.com
* * * * * - 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