‘Green Book’ is a Cross Country Education with a Sidecar of Humor and Friendship

The cast of "Green Book" talks about how humor makes tough subjects easier to take.

What to Know

  • "Green Book" was directed by Peter Farrelly.
  • The film is based on a true friendship.
  • "Green Book" opens nationwide on November 16th.

Inspired by a true friendship, "Green Book" takes us on a journey from the Bronx to the deep south during the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960's. The Green Book itself was a real book used to guide African Americans to safe lodging, dining and business options while traveling in the Jim Crow south.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali play the unlikely companions who use the Green Book as their guide while navigating uncertain situations. While the Green Book is the titular character in the film, we hardly see it at all. Instead the movie focuses on friendship, class, and racial injustices of the time.

Tony Lipp (Mortensen) is an Italian-American bouncer and part time driver who is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali) on a concert tour from Manhattan to the deep south and see that he gets safely to each performance. Shirley is a world-class pianist and although he is welcome to play for wealthy white crowds, he is not allowed to use the same restroom or accommodations.

The movie touches on racial themes that are still relevant today. We see the heartbreak and frustration with Ali who is one minute praised for his talent, and being forced to use an outhouse the next.

While the subject is heavy and should not be taken lightly, there is certainly a lighter feeling with this film, and even laugh out loud moments. That's due in large part to director Peter Farrelly.

"I don't think we realized it was going to be as funny as it is," Mortensen tells me during a recent press interview. "We've watched the movie a few times and I'm still laughing out loud when I see certain things."

Racial wrongs and civil rights might not seem that amusing, but Farrelly skillfully draws you into these characters and their story with humor without compromising the real life heartache and fear that black people felt during this time. Something both actors say is relevant today.

"This film right now is somewhat of an antidote to some of the things we're feeling bubble up on the surface right now." Ali said.

"Green Book" opens nationwide on November 16th.

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