Reviewed by: Brian Nigro
loss of friend
handicap / disabled person
birth defect: Morquio Syndrome
suit of armor
armor in the Bible
coming of age
murder in the Bible
lying in the Bible
loss of son
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
“Courage comes in all sizes.”
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light.”
—1 Peter 2:9
First things first. “The Mighty” will be inevitably compared by audiences to “Simon Birch” (1998) because both films' heroes are affected by Morquio’s Syndrome, an actual degenerative health condition. Take away this aspect, and the two films are dissimilar as apples and oranges. No question about it.
“The Mighty”, based on a book Freak The Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, charts the friendship between Max (ELDEN RATLIFF), a sleeping giant of an adolescent, and Kevin (KIERAN CULKIN), the disabled boy with too much knowledge and imagination on his hands. Neither boy fits “in” at school, and they are eventually peer pressured into their own imaginary world of King Arthur, of Camelot, of chivalry. Max wants Kevin’s intelligence, and Kevin wants Max’s legs—the predominant image of “The Mighty”, in fact, is of Kevin sitting on Max’s shoulders.
The beginning of “The Mighty”, sad to say, depicts some callous and cruel harrassment and torment of Max—and later, of Kevin. While there is very little profanity or swearing, the characterizations are rather aggressive if not downright painful to watch, and there’s no doubt many old wounds will be ripped open for some teenage viewers. Clearly, this is well within “PG-13” territory.
A lot of Max’s troubles concern his family background, which I won’t reveal here. Suffice to say, he lives with his grandparents Grim (HARRY DEAN STANTON) and Gram (Gena Rowlands). His grandmother is a conspicuously Christian woman who keeps a picture of Jesus in the kitchen. They don’t say grace before meals, but it’s quite apparent they’re raising Max with morals.
Also raising a child with morals—though she clearly gets by with prayers and the grace of God—is Gwen (Sharon Stone), who’s resigned to the fact that her son Kevin has a dictionary for a brain but faces an uncertain future. It’s ironic Sharon Stone is credited as a lead role in “The Mighty” when her total screen time amounts to roughly two or three minutes in as many scenes. She’s a supporting actress, not lead.
All in all, “The Mighty” feels a lot more sentimental than it should be, thanks in no small part to an Irish/Celtic soundtrack by Trevor Jones and a title song, “Freak The Mighty” by Sting, with lyrics pertaining to the plot. Would this movie be as affecting without the music? Not likely. But, that’s not to say this isn’t a socially and morally redeeming movie, because it is.
“The Mighty” is rated PG-13 for infrequent profanity (it’s there, but not too noticeable), sporadic violence, and recurring menace. The subject matter in this movie is rather strong and not suitable for children under 12 or 13. From a Christian perspective, however, there is a lot of substantial material for parents, teachers, or/and pastors to discuss with their teens, such as: What’s your part in contributing to the kingdom of God? And, unlike “Simon Birch”, there are no sleazy one-liners from children. The dialogue is mostly, not entirely, clean.
Bottom line: Highly recommended for Christian adults and mature teenagers.