Prior to the start of every new cinematic year, insiders are openly aware of the biggest filmmakers, acting talent and production teams planning to deliver the next awards season’s finest efforts. As a result, there usually aren’t many surprise movies sneaking into the end of the year foray leading up to the Oscars. Enter Peter Farrelly’s magnificent new bro-mance comedy, Green Book, an unforeseen contender that went on to capture the highly coveted Audience Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival en route to what’s destined to be a successful Oscar run.
Viggo Mortensen stars as Tony Lip, a tough nightclub bouncer born and raised on the streets of Brooklyn, New York who hustles his way around the city during the early 1960s in order to provide for his loving wife (Linda Cardellini) and family. But as his nightclub shuts down for renovations and finances begin to get tight, he’s approached by a world class African American pianist named Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) who wants Tony to escort him on a musical tour through the deep-south during the tense Jim Crow era. And unbeknownst to these two vastly different gentlemen, a lifetime of genuine friendship is destined to develop.
Don’t be mistaken, despite the film’s heavy-themed and seemingly familiar premise, Green Book stands as a top-flight buddy-buddy comedy that’s relentless in its pursuit of laughter. Viggo Mortensen completely transforms into his character, as both he and co-star Mahershala Ali both deliver Oscar-caliber performances that become the heart and soul of the film. Likewise, writer/director Peter Farrelly, who’s no stranger to comedy as a central figurehead behind hits like Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary and Hall Pass, adapts a brilliant screenplay and molds this heart-warming true story into a barrage of hysterical moments. And just when you think a joke has reached its punchline, Farrelly often digs deeper and extends the hilarity by keeping the joke going beyond expectations and serving up an even funnier-than-anticipated conclusion. It’s a true testament to the writer’s natural comedic understanding. And in a year bombarded with robust dramas, Green Book also separates itself apart by addressing the film's Civil Rights backdrop with levity and charm that never allows the movie to get too serious. Even though Green Book is clearly a comedy first, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali provide a remarkable onscreen kinship which effortlessly breeds an emotional aspect to the film, one that can’t be overstated. There’s an endless list of praises to be heaped upon Peter Farrelly’s outstanding work, placing Green Book atop my list of films for 2018.