Peter Farrelly’s solo debut, Green Book follows Viggo Mortensen’s working-class Tony Lip as he reluctantly accepts a job chauffeuring a black pianist (Mahershala Ali’s Don Shirley) through his tour of the deep (and extremely racist) south in the ’60s. It’s clear immediately that filmmaker Farrelly has no loftier goal than to craft an engaging and unabashedly conventional crowd-pleaser, as Green Book, by and large, comes off as a compulsively watchable drama that’s been adorned with a whole host of appealing elements – with, especially, the movie benefiting quite substantially from both Mortensen and Ali’s solid work as the affable central characters (and it certainly doesn’t hurt that there’s a real chemistry between the two actors). There’s little doubt, however, that Green Book suffers from a fairly repetitive midsection that’s exacerbated by a palpably overlong running time, as scripters Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, and Brian Hayes Currie deliver a bloated second act that tends to follow a rather predictable pattern (ie Tony and Don bond and encounter racism and bond some more) – which subsequently does ensure, certainly, that the feel-good conclusion doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch one might’ve anticipated. Still, Green Book predominantly comes off as an agreeable endeavor that shines a light on an admittedly compelling true-life story and situation – with the picture perhaps marking the start of a whole new chapter for filmmaker Farrelly.
*** out of ****