Director Peter Farrelly gives us Green Book, essentially a remake of Driving Miss Daisy with the roles reversed and starring Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the Academy Award winning actor from Moonlight (Mahershala Ali). It’s a feel good movie about race relations that goes light on the grit and heavy on the sentiment. Based on a true story, Mortensen plays Tony Lip, an Italian bouncer at the Copacabana who finds himself temporarily without a job while the club is being renovated. His next gig installs him as a driver and bodyguard for Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), an African-American classical pianist who is touring a jazz trio in the early 1960s Deep South. So this is a road movie, with Tony driving and Shirley sitting in the back. As they venture south, they talk about fried chicken, Chubby Checker and letter writing. There is nothing in their dialogue that is anything remotely original or surprising, but Farrelly is lucky to have these two guys in the car. Without them, this film would be a total slog. The duo is, at times, fun to watch, even when the movie around them isn’t. Mortensen, who has had his share of dramatic and action roles, gets a chance to show off some comedic timing. He also put on over 40 pounds for the role. Mahershala is good as Shirley, so good you wish the script matched the majesty of his work. Seamless special effects make it look like he can play a mean piano. The movie is average at best, delivering a relatively good time while feeling quite dated. I expect a little more heft from a movie with this subject matter.

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