The Mighty

The Mighty


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The message comes across loud and proud: if you don't fit in, fit out. Two boys live next door to each other. Kevin (Kieran Culkin) has just arrived. He's the new kid on the block and he's crippled. Maxwell (Elden Henson), who narrates the story, has always suffered from having a convicted killer for a dad. Worse still, he's stupid.

Kevin, on the other hand, is bright, bright, genius bright. He invents stuff and reads books. His favourite is the Camelot sagas. He fantasises about them and even talks in made-up Arthurian sentences. Maxwell is big. The school bullies pick on him for being slow and thick. He never fights back. He lives with his grandparents (Gena Rowlands and Harry Dean Stanton), who are products of a rural past, now gone. He is lonely and shy.

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Kevin and Maxwell are a team. They help each other. "You need brains and I need legs," Kevin says. He rides on Maxwell's shoulders, while, at other times, teaches him to read and face up to the gangs who taunt him. "Dinosaurs had brains the size of walnuts," he says. "And they ruled the world for 60 million years." Maxwell takes heart.

Despite strong performances from the boys and an interesting, but limited, cameo from Sharon Stone, as Kevin's mum, the film is soft to the core, deeply sentimental and too politically correct for its own good. At times the fantasy element takes over and becomes like a fairy tale, which might have been the best place for it.

The tough nuts at school are token baddies. A fresh breeze would blow them over. Rowlands and Stanton have so little to do, they become decoration. Peter Chelsom, who made the wonderful Hear My Song and the less wonderful Funny Bones, appears intoxicated by the need to dignify disability with qualities of compassion and greatness.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Tale of friendship between a boy who has learning problems and a little bright spark who needs help standing up to bullies.
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Director: Peter Chelsom

Writer: Charles Leavitt, based on the novel by Rodman Philbrick

Starring: Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands, Harry Dean Stanton, Kieran Culkin, Elden Henson

Year: 1998

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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