Tom Hanks Project – “The Green Mile” Review

3 Sep

the-green-mile-movie-poster-1999-1020209835While “Saving Private Ryan” may be the most difficult watch in Hanks’ catalog for sensitive viewers due to violence, “The Green Mile” may be the most emotionally draining. We watch beloved character after beloved character get executed, not to mention the traumatizing “death” of a mouse (Caitlin’s least favorite part.) It took us a month and a half to get through the three-plus hour epic, but I’m glad we finally did*. It’s a spectacular film with wonderful performances that left us feeling totally spent afterwards**. I was surprised to see it didn’t earn Hanks his fifth best actor nomination, even though the film got four nods including best picture and supporting actor for Michael Clark Duncan. It’s some of his finest work and he disappeared in the character brilliantly.


**I was useless. I had so many things I needed to do, and did none of them. It’s not quite Requiem for a Dream-I-can’t-ever-watch-movies-again depressing, but it’s SO emotional.
GREEN_MILE-2Caitlin and I forgot that the movie is bookended by old Paul Edgecomb (Hanks, but not Hanks even though he did two old man make-up tests we watched in the special features) in a retirement home telling his story to a fellow elderly woman. When the retirement home put on a 1930’s Fred Astaire movie, Paul gets choked up, remembering showing the movie to John Coffey as his last wish and the memories come flooding back. He recalls that one year on “The Green Mile” (the death row block with its floor painted green) and all the traumatic and miraculous events of that year.


We have characters we love, like the gentle Delacroix and his well-trained mouse “Mr. Jangles.” MR. JANGLESSSSSSSS!!!!

Percy-GreeN-MileThe extremely evil Percy, who is such a prick that Caitlin and I debated whether he was worse than a double child rapist and murderer just because he’s such a smug dick head. He has no backbone and loves twisting the knife into whoever he wants to hurt’s weak spot. He’s worse than a smug dickhead, he’s seriously and truly slime. Evil, evil, evil to the core. But he gets what he has coming to him, thankfully.

I-was-just-playin-the-green-mile-20526604-1920-1080And then there’s the complete sociopath, “Wild Bill” who rapes and kills children and pregnant women without a care in the world, played perfectly by Sam Rockwell. He’s pure evil and holds no bodily function back in his attempt at pure mayhem. I totally forgot Sam Rockwell played this disgusting lowlife sunnufabitch and it made me feel icky for how much I love The Way Way Back for a moment.

John-Coffey-the-green-mile-20526315-640-400Thankfully, we have John Coffey, that gentle giant teddy bear of a man, who is no less than an angel for “The Green Mile.”  JOHN COFFEY FOR PRESIDENT. Like the drink, only not spelled the same.

Laugh Out Loud: Zack 19 Caitlin: 14 It’s a pretty dark film, but we get our share of laughs from things like Harry Dean Stanton joking around during a mock execution or laughing at Percy when he gets what’s coming to him. It’s not trying to be a comedy or anything, but still more laughs than most of the more somber Hanks films and you need a few laughs to get through this one. Praise Hayzeus for Harry Dean Stanton in this film. What a disgusting delight he was.

Comedy: N/A Sure, we could rate this a 4 or 5, but that’s not fair. It’s a 3-hour death row movie. Not Applicable. This makes me want to hide under the covers just reading it.

Eye Cover: Zack: 0 Caitlin: 18 A new record! OK, we couldn’t even calculate “Saving Private Ryan*” but this was the highest eye cover count we’ve ever had. The first time we tried to watch this a couple weeks ago, Caitlin covered her eyes every time “Mr. Jangles” came on screen because she feared Percy would stomp him. I tried to re-assure her that he hadn’t even been named or taught tricks yet and that we had at least an hour to go before the stomping, but she could not be convinced and we stopped watching the film**. Last night when we watched the final two and a half hours, she covered her eyes for every execution and the eventual stomping. It’s a rough watch, I’ll admit.

*I just watched through my blanket for most of that film.

**Stopped in tears, I might add.

Cry: Zack: 0 Caitlin: 1 When I first saw this in the theaters with my mom, I cried maybe more than I’ve ever cried in the theater. I lost it during the horribly botched Delacroix execution and just wept and wept, even crying afterwards in the parking lot. It was my “Fault in our Stars.” This time around, I watched it and felt the emotion, but just held Caitlin’s hand as she cried during Coffey’s execution. I sobbed and sobbed, particularly when Dean Stanton (no, not Harry Dean Stanton but Dean Stanton, played by Barry Pepper) kept crying. Ugh. This damn movie.

bonnie_hunt_tom_hanks_the_green_mile_001Romantic Interest: Zack: 7 Caitlin: 7 They’re not electric or anything, but Hanks and Bonnie Hunt fit well together for a mid-40s couple. They have great communication and balance and have solid chemistry, especially after Coffey fixes Paul’s urinary issue (four times in one night). They’re better than you’d expect them to be as a couple. It’s sweet, it’s appropriate for the time period, and Bonnie Hunt’s character is such a loving, wonderful woman. The movie’s not about them, but the romance totally works.


Hanks: Zack: 9.6 Caitlin: 9.6 Still surprised he didn’t at least get a nom for this role. Hanks disappears in Paul Edgecomb, nailing the accent, becoming the quiet leader of “The Green Mile.” He gives the character so much humanity, whether struggling through physical pain of a urinary infection or the emotional turmoil of having to execute John Coffey, knowing that not only is he completely innocent, but he’s a healer and miracle worker. It’s a difficult role and one that could feel hokey or unconvincing in lesser hands and Hanks absolutely nails it. This is definitely one of the top-notch Hanks performances that we’ve seen. He simply is Paul Edgecomb, and you just love him so much for it.

Movie: Zack: 9.4 Caitlin: 9.3 This may not be our favorite one to watch, but it’s still a wonderful piece of filmmaking. So many great characters, all of the feels, and a remarkable story. It ends Hanks’ brilliant ’90s run with style. I don’t know if I can ever get Caitlin to watch it again*, but we did watch an extra 45 mins of special features on the blu-ray and I may watch the commentary by myself one day. In many ways, the story reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird, which is a very difficult story to parallel. But it’s incredibly engrossing and brilliantly emotional — 1,000 times better than another 3 hour movie we saw fairly recently (I’m looking at you, Wolf of Wall Shit). Hanks is great, the supporting cast is great, the story is incredible, and the ending is just about as haunting but perfect as you could ever hope for. Nice work, Stephen King.

*You may not.


2 Responses to “Tom Hanks Project – “The Green Mile” Review”

  1. Kathy September 7, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Definitely my favorite of Stephen King’s works; this is a true masterpiece and everyone played their role to the hilt !!


  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - November 18, 2015

    […] The Green Mile – 1999 | Zack: 9.4 Caitlin: 9.3 […]

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