Turn Back the Clock
Distributed by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Based on the young adult novel, Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick and starring Sharon Stone, Kieran Culkin and Elden Henson, The Mighty first hit the theaters in 1998. I saw the film years ago and the storyline stuck with me…so much so, that I had to buy the film on DVD to add to my collection.
When Maxwell Kane (Elden Henson) first meets his new neighbor, he has no idea what to make of him. Dressed in a crazy outfit and speaking in an equally zany language, Kevin Dillon (Keiran Culkan) is equal parts intriguing and scary. Max is used to keeping to himself, trying not to attract any more attention that his bulky size or tragic past already attracts for him. Since his mother’s death, Max has been living with his grandmother and grandfather (his mother’s family), the circumstances of her death cause for much gossip around town. Max’s learning disability makes him even more of a target for ridicule among the nastier kids in the town.
But Max soon learns that he has less to worry about than Kevin, an incredibly intelligent and imaginative young man trapped in a broken body. Suffering from Morquio’s syndrome, Kevin’s organs are outgrowing the rest of his body. His bones have stopped growing and he is forced to use a combination of canes and leg braces to get around, but Kevin refuses to let these things hold him back.
The first meeting between these two teenagers is not exactly positive, but when Kevin is assigned as Max’s reading tutor and introduces Max to the world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the two find that they have more in common than they expected. They also realize that they have a unique opportunity at hand – Max has the range of motion that Kevin doesn’t and Kevin has the intelligence that Max lacks. Together, the two make a formidable team and form a bond of friendship that will stand any storm, including that of the return of Max Kane’s father.
The characters in The Mighty are believable even though the situations they get into are sometimes a bit over the top. Kieran Culkan and Elden Henson make a great pair. Kieran's acting is often overlooked thanks to his brother, but I think that Kieran is the better actor by far. Elden is highly under-rated as an actor. The fact that he takes on more independent film roles may be to blame, but they are roles he believes in and thus, he portrays them extremely well. Sharon Stone is not one of my favorite actors, but she shines as Kevin's mother. And when you consider the role he played in The Sopranos, James Gandolfini is pretty tame as Killer Kane, Max's father.
The storyline of the movie is designed to teach kids that, despite their differences, they still possess a special trait that, when cultivated, can make them shine. Max tried to stay in the background, unnoticed, laying low. His learning disability held him back, but so did events from his past. Kevin was willing to look past Max's history and help him work through his disability, showing him that he didn't have to hide in the shadows...that he could be proud of who he was and what he could accomplish. It sends an important message about friendship, loyalty, self-love and tolerance to kids and is a beautiful tale for adults. It also sends a very important message about disabilities - you can live with a disability and choose to allow it to rule your life, or you can choose to move past it and be the ruler of your own destiny. The Mighty is one of those feel good movies that I can watch again and again. But be forewarned: tissues will be a necessity by the end of this film.