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Review

MIGHTY review

Today started like most of the days I don't write about, but when a certain person beckoned, I came, and the film I saw in the twilight hours at an undisclosed location here in Austin... I saw THE MIGHTY. It's one of Miramax's secret weapons, known only for the fact it has Sharon Stone, but mainly for having Gillian Anderson in it. Up until now everyone has talked about this film as starring them. Bullcrap. This film stars Elden Ratliff and Kieran Culkin (yeah of that family).The film just happens to be brilliant.

Usually, right about here I begin gabbering about my day, my life, what happened to me that led me to this film. I really can't think of anything other than the thoughts this film gave me. What did this film give me?

I remember when I wasn't HARRY KNOWLES, big shot internet guru fanboy. When thoughts of Vanity Fair and World Premieres were the stuff of rapid eye movement. The film took me back before I was anything like the person I am today, before I had confidence, before I spoke aloud, when all I was... all I could see of myself... was a fat kid.

I remember it was third grade, and all of a sudden the world discovered I was fat, that I was no longer Harry, the kid with an illegal video print of Star Wars that everyone could watch free at my house, but rather I was fat. I was no longer one of the crowd, I was the kid who could never get pants that's leg length was the right size to correspond to the waist size of the pants. And I remember the kid that first noticed... his name was Sean Gillory, and he discovered that one day I wasn't like him. That's when the teasing began, when the names and the joyful gang of insults flew.

I went home that day, my head low, my pride lower. I walked along a great stretch of Austin, along a street called Red River, beside a golf course, along the sidewalk that enclosed Hancock Center (which contained SEARS which at the time housed Star Wars Action Figures). Usually I had a group of friends that walked along side me, they were that neighborhood crowd, but on this day I was fat.

I arrived at home, my cheeks flush red, tears stroking the pudgy cheeks. My parents rushed to me, and my Dad took me to the front porch and told me, "Sticks and Stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you." What bullshit. The names hurt bad, and he was spouting nursery rhymes. I managed a smile and I shuffled my way to my room. My sanctuary. I came out for supper, looking at each morsel as if it were the enemy, an enemy that my fat body didn't need, but my arms and jaw muscles betrayed me, and I chewed guiltily, stuffing my face, asking for seconds, and felt horrible.

That's when I went to my parent's room where we all watched TV. That night we watched CYRANO DE BERGERAC starring Jose Ferrer. My salvation, I thought. He had a big nose, but he knew a score better ways to make fun of it. I decided then and there that I was fat, it's who I was, and so what if a Sean Gillory pointed it out, I could come up with hundreds of funnier fat jokes, after all I had to live with it, I knew fat intimately.

Now usually that's the story I tell people, when they say..."Man, it had to be tough growing up fat." Yes, some people actually put it that way. Tact, it's kinda important. But truth be told, I didn't just magically cut my emotions. No. There was this kid name Angel Pena. Nobody ever talked to him, because he was always taking medication. He definately had the cooties. When I became fat, he was all alone too, so like the little freaks that we were, we became friends.

Angel (yes, that was his real name) and I played a lot. He always had a shortness of breath, but we both loved monsters, Famous Monsters of Filmland. He loved Scooby Doo and Battle of the Planets. He loved art, as did I. We became quick friends. The sort of friends that don't really notice things like I was fat, or that he was ill, that I had redhair or that he was hispanic. Those things just didn't matter. What did matter, what I cared about was that we were friends.

I went to spend the night at his house one night and that's when I saw how much medicine he had to take. He had some sort of bad cooties, but heck, I didn't care, I wanted whatever cooties he had, because he was cool. Kids didn't pick on him, he didn't pick on me. He was cool. His house was very small, his family was poor. When he stayed at my house it was as if he had entered heaven. We had over 125,000 comic books upstairs, organized to perfection, we had posters, toys, movies and video games. It was heaven for him. We laughed and played and I became better. I was slowly becoming Harry. The kid who gave other kids a smile, and Angel was the kid I made smile.

Then one day he never came to school. He needed blood badly. He had some sort of blood disease and he needed bone marrow badly. Problem was he was a super rare blood type, and... well... I pleaded with my parents to let me give him that red stuff in my bones, that stuff that made my blood. They knew the facts, they knew mine didn't work, but I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. Angel liked monsters, Forry Ackerman and me. We were the same, of course it would work.

Angel died. The next day was the first time I was fat without my training wheels, he gave me a push down the hill, got me going, and I was on my own.

I remember Angel, THE MIGHTY made me remember Angel. Elden Ratliff and Kieran Culkin were brilliant. They represent every outsider kid, so much better than movies like ANGUS or even STAND BY ME. THE MIGHTY is beautiful, it's a parable for the losses and gains we have in life, the people that gave us something that are a part of the chemical balance in our minds. They provide the tears of memory and the smiles of the past.

In the background behind Elden Ratliff (aka THE MIGHTY) and Kieran Culkin (FREAK) are some wonderful parts. Remember who Gena Rowlands is. She's that fantatstic Cassavetes actress that captured so many great characters of yore. Her part is small, but great. Harry Dean Stanton is also wonderful as the weird ol Grand Pa. Sharon Stone is perfect for the Mom of Kieran's character. That Culkin just made Mac invisible for all time in my eyes. What about Scully? She's not in the film, but Gillian is, she's completely invisible in her character. Not a shred of Scully to be seen. Not a look in the eye, not a gesture of the hand. Her face is different, her hair, her body type. She was a chameleon in the film, and she was wonderful.

This is the sort of film that will grab you, that refuses to let go of you, that makes you remember all the people that got you where you are. Man that's a lot of people. Thank all of ya. This is the kind of movie that MIRAMAX makes, and that makes MIRAMAX. It's pure gold, pure magic, pure beauty and it is all real.

I have been in tears for 3 hours now. My cheeks are so wet they are wrinkling. I'm not too sure if that's the film, or my own memories. The film is brilliant. It comes out October 30th. Don't miss it.

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 20, 1998, 1:32 p.m. CST

    The Mighty

    by Lesley Friend

    I thought your review was beautiful. I read about your page in newsweek and I went I thought it was just anothr movie rumor page, but that was really beautiful. I'm a fat kid, but I'm still a fat kid, 16, and I'm a girl so its worse since I am supposed to weigh 12 lbs. I read "Freak the Mighty" in 6th grade, and as you review the book made me cry, I could connect with it so well. I can't think of the who the author is, but the movie is based on that book, it is an adolescent book, but still a great read. I am also a huge X-Phile, when I heard Gillian was doing films I was ecstatic. I had long been watching her extremem talent on the show and was waiting for her to make a break into the movies. Everyone raves about David Duchonvy, but I do not think that his "talent" is anywhere near her caliber. I am glad that her first film, (not counting X-Files FTF, and The Turning, her college project) is something so touching and worthwhile. Lesley Friend P.S. Have you heard anything about the musical "RENT" being turned into a film? I heard that rumor about a year ago, starring Neil Patrick Harris, I am a real RENT fan and was just wondering. Kudos on a great site!

  • Sept. 1, 1998, 1:50 p.m. CST

    There you go again, Harry!

    by Razorboy

    The one big thing that I love about this site is the fact that you feel privy to secrets that the average filmgoers doesn't know. I was more than thrilled to see a review listed for "The Mighty". As I scrolled through the overlong text I realized that, once again, Harry is using this as a forum to release his adolescent pain without actually reviewing the film. Harry, you fat fuck, WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?????????????????

  • Sept. 4, 1998, 1:02 a.m. CST

    Hey Moriarty! (you too Harry)

    by suspicious mind

    Well, truth is I haven't seen it. But when I heard they were gonna make the movie from one of my favorite books, I freaked. No one could ever do justice to a book like this. It changed my life and shame on anyone who thinks it could be translated to the big screen. The author must have asked the filmmakers to change the name from Freak The Mighty to The Mighty, because the adaptation failed miserably - All of this, clear evidence of how terrible the film must be. This is the review I was born to write and I couldn't feel any stronger about it if I were a hack underground reviewer sacrificing my creative gifts for political position and gain from the studio of the month. This site's a joke - proof that Harry's reviewers are like high-school adolescents blacklisting those who are fashionable to blacklist. All your politically tainted reviews are literary proof that Hollywood truly is "high-school" with money. Knuckleheads. P.S. And by the way, I wish The Mighty all the success it may merit.