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Featured DVD Review: The Mighty

January 9th, 2012

The Mighty - Buy from Amazon

The Mighty came out more than a decade ago and was a pretty sizable hit in limited release. It cost just $100,000 to make, but earned $2.65 million theatrically. It managed to pick up a couple Golden Globe nominations, but wasn't a major player during Awards Season. It first came out on DVD in 1999, but has been out of print for a long time. This week, Echo Bridge is re-releasing on a featureless DVD, but is it worth grabbing for those who missed it the first time?

The Movie

The film begins with Maxwell Kane talking about King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable and how he learned all about them from Freak, whom we later learn is Kevin Dillon. Max has failed grade seven two years in a row and despite his size, he is the frequent target of bullies, especially Blade and his gang. At the beginning of the movie, Gwendolyn and her son Kevin move in next to Max and his grandparents, Susan and Elton. Kevin is the opposite to Max. He's smart, but physically small and has been in and out of hospitals most of his life due to his Morquio syndrome.

Max and Kevin first meet in school during gym when Kevin is the victim of Blade's bullying, but Max is the one blamed. They meet again in Max's learning disability class when Kevin is Max's student tutor. Despite their initial encounter, the two become friends, as they both feel like outsiders. The pair also complement each other, as Kevin has the brains and Max has the muscles. They discover how well they work as a team after another encounter with Blade and his gang, and Max and Kevin practically operate as one person helping the pair escape. Max also gains a lot more self-esteem and when they run into Blade next, after they see Blade hiding a purse the gang stole, Max is willing to stand up to Blade and the rest.

When they return the purse to its owner, Loretta Lee, Max is in for a shock. Loretta knew Max's father, Kenny. In fact, Loretta's boyfriend, Iggy, did time in prison with Max's father. This revelation is too much for Max, but Kevin tells him about his father. Kevin's father took off as soon as he learned Kevin had a birth defect. They vowed to never speak of their fathers again, because they were not their fathers. They were their own men.

This is a good place to end the plot summary, as the most natural segue marches us straight into spoiler territory.

The Mighty is a family film aimed at kids in the same age range as Kevin, roughly 12 to 13 years old. You can tell in a few parts. For instance, the fanciful images of knights on horseback when Max and Kevin walk down the street. Or an early example of the pair standing up for the girl in the diner. It had to be a dramatic scene, but it could not be too threatening, because the film was aimed at younger kids. (Personally, I don't think someone who is willing to physically hurt a woman in a public setting like that would back down to a couple of kids, even if one was riding on the other's shoulders.)

However, for the most part, this film isn't, "good for a kids movie", it's just plain good, without any qualifiers. The two young leads, Elden Henson and Kieran Culkin, are excellent, and the film has a number of great supporting actors. Sharon Stone earned a Golden Globe nomination, and it was deserved. The overall script can be a tad melodramatic at times, but not so much that it is a deal-breaker, and for the most part it will entertain adults as well.

The Extras

There are no extras on this DVD.

The Verdict

The Mighty is a family film that opened in limited release. This partly explains why it was never able to expand wide, as family films are not the genre you think of when it comes to limited releases. The film deserves to been seen by more, and since the previous DVD is out of print, the new Echo Bridge edition DVD is worth checking out. It might have no extras, but it is also just $7, which is a good price given the quality of the movie.

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