“Green Book” (Universal)

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali star in a scene from the movie "Green Book." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Universal Studios)

By Catholic News Service

High-minded saga of race relations in 1962 is hobbled by sentimentality and doesn’t so much lean into stereotypes as take flying, cringe-worthy leaps. It’s based on a real concert tour through the Midwest and South taken by African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) in the company of Anthony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an assistant maitre d’ at New York’s Copacabana nightclub who served as both chauffeur and bodyguard. Shirley was famous at the time for his recordings of jazz and show tunes (since, in that era, promoters thought audiences wouldn’t accept a black classical musician).

Director Peter Farrelly, who co-wrote the screenplay with Vallelonga’s son, Nick, and Brian Currie, shows the journey as a series of individual challenges, depending on the venue. The film has merit despite its flaws, although it’s never clear that either character is experiencing anything along the lines of personal growth.

Pervasive racial slurs, references to homosexuality, fleeting rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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