Quick Hit: A bit cheesy, but a great movie that will have you feeling a variety of emotions throughout.
Balancing the delicate act between a supernatural thriller about a man with the power to heal and a comedy about men in jail on death row (almost akin to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) is a delicate battle. However, Stephen King tackled exactly that in his story of The Green Mile. Filled with memorable characters and heart-wrenching events, it was a story that many people would have balked at trying to adapt (for other stories like this, see The Stand (TV mini-series), IT (TV mini-series), and The Dark Tower (first a critical bomb of a movie, then a TV series)). However, frequent King adaptor Frank Darabont (he of Shawshank Redemption and our last movie, The Mist) decided to tackle this. That result is a three hour behemoth of a movie starring Tom Hanks and several other actors you’ll recognize but won’t be able to place.
The Green Mile essentially gives us the story of Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and John Coffey (Michael Clark Duncan) (“Like the drink, but not spelled the same). Paul is the lead guard on The Green Mile, which is death row. John is the latest inmate, an enormous black man convicted of raping and killing two young girls. It’s obvious from his introduction that John is different from other inmates, asking for the lights to be left on because he’s scared of the dark. Paul soon finds out just how different John is, whilst navigating a staff full of men he respects, with the exception of one young man, Percy (Doug Hutchinson). Percy is sadistic, and only holds the position because his uncle is the governor.
There are so many memorable characters in this film, that it’s no wonder the film finishes up a tad over three hours. Whereas many directors/writers would have skipped over some of the side characters, like Eduard Delacroix (played by
Michael Jeter, who happens to be Mr. Noodle on Elmo’s World) or even Sam Rockwell’s despicable Wild Bill, I can’t imagine the film without them. They are both some involved in the plot that without their development, the movie wouldn’t have been as good.
Darabont follows a simple style with his camera work, and allows the actors to do the work. Though Hanks was marketed as the star, I actually think all the other players out perform him. David Morse is excellent as “Brutal”, and Jeter and Rockwell knock it out of the park with their characters. But it’s Clark Duncan who really owns the film, and makes the film worth watching overall. Equal parts Jesus stand-in and simpleton, John Coffey is so watchable playing a character that is so simple. You want to find out more about him the minute he appears on screen, and the camerawork, which frequently presents Coffey as much larger than life, also helps to paint him as relatable and down-to-earth.
Fair warning – I won’t ruin it, but this movie has one of the most gruesome deaths of any movie I’ve ever watched – and I’m a horror movie fan. Just keep that in mind before throwing on the film.
I’m going to give The Green Mile an “A-“. Thank you so much for joining us for Stephen King weeks. There are so many more films that we could watch, and maybe one day Shannon will agree to it. Until then, we’ll continue to fill the site if you all continue to read it.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"