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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.38%
Average: 10.33%
Pretty Bad: 5.79%
Total Crap: 6.61%

13 reviews, 164 user ratings

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Green Mile, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Decent, sturdy, and overlong."
4 stars

In a movie that's terrible anyway -- 'Patch Adams' comes immediately to mind -- bad, cheesy, sentimental moments can be perversely pleasurable: they tip a merely poor movie over the edge into something ripe for vicious parody. On the other hand, such moments in an otherwise fine movie can be painful. Instead of relishing the awfulness, we want to pass quickly over it.

The Green Mile, a handsome, well-crafted movie, has enough such moments to crush a lesser movie -- or, for that matter, a shorter one. That it survives is a testament to its intelligence and conviction; it also has enough rascally, lowdown moments to balance the uplifting ones, which, as usual, weigh a movie down rather than lifting it up.

The Green Mile is based on Stephen King's novel, first published in serial-book form in the summer of 1996 -- a summer I happily spent devouring each new installment and impatiently awaiting the next. Like most of King's work, this is a story of metaphysical fantasy wedded to grim reality. What if a hulking accused child-killer, sentenced to the electric chair, had the power to heal? The convict in question, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, from Armageddon), had been found with two dead girls, one in each massive arm; now he has a date with "Old Sparky," the electric chair at the end of the cell block known to its guards as the Green Mile.

The hero, Paul Edgecomb, keeps things running smoothly on the Mile. He's a compassionate guard who takes no pleasure in strapping men in to "ride the lightning" -- it's a sad, necessary business (this is 1935, decades before lethal injection). He reserves his anger for fellow guard Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), a wet-nosed sadist who taunts and torments the inmates at every convenience. Paul also strikes up an unlikely friendship with Coffey, who changes Paul's life in small ways and one big way. Stephen King probably didn't write Paul with Tom Hanks in mind, but it's hard to see anyone else in the role. Packing some extra beef, Hanks once again embodies decency without overselling it -- unlike his director, Frank Darabont.

You may recall that Darabont's only previous feature, The Shawshank Redemption, was another Stephen King prison drama. Those expecting the Kubrickian rigor and plot ingenuity of Shawshank should prepare for a letdown: The Green Mile is almost perfectly faithful to King's loosely structured tale, sometimes to a fault. The movie's climax, following King's, eradicates any chance of complexity -- a revelation late in the game is awfully reminiscent of Shawshank. I've read an early draft of Darabont's script, and he decided to cut a couple of important bits (a scene or two detailing why Coffey's fate is inevitable) and, mercifully, the annoying Percy-like lout in the framing sequences who taunts the elderly Paul. Darabont has a satisfying sense of weight, a true respect for men speaking quietly and gravely to each other, but his work here alternates between subtlety and crowd-pleasing blow-outs; too often, he's trying to out-Spielberg Spielberg.

Fortunately, Darabont is a whiz with actors, and he gets vivid performances from David Morse and Barry Pepper as Paul's right-hand men, the big, soulful Duncan sadly awaiting his end, Bonnie Hunt as Paul's wife, Michael Jeter as the Cajun inmate for whom bad things are in store, and particularly Sam Rockwell as the Mile's newest family member, William Wharton, the kind of wild-ass psycho King specializes in (although Wharton, a Charlie Starkweather type, seems to belong to the '50s more than the '30s). Special mention should be made of the several talented mice playing Mr. Jingles, the tiny cheese-eater who lightens things up on the Mile (and in this movie); they're all terrific.

At three hours plus, The Green Mile probably overstays its welcome by about a half hour or so. Afterward, you may get the feeling that this material might have been better served in a two-night ABC miniseries. I also found it interesting that Darabont makes it easy for us to sympathize with the two killers prior to Coffey who go to meet Old Sparky: significantly, we're never told what their crimes were (drunken murderer and rapist/killer, respectively, according to the book). The Green Mile thus becomes an abstract fable about men awaiting death (as are we all, don't you know), without much moral shading.

Still, for that we can turn to documentaries or Dostoyevsky. This is a big-studio film based on a hastily written work by our great populist author. As such, it's dotted with many fine moments, clotted with a few flabby ones. Having now seen that he can adapt Stephen King -- not once but twice -- with more high seriousness than anyone outside Kubrick, I'll be curious to see what else Frank Darabont has to offer.

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originally posted: 01/24/07 12:37:29
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User Comments

11/13/20 FireWithFire Black men "Good", White Men EVIL. typical stephen king leftist propaganda 1 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell overrated but still good 4 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Never wanted it to finish. A fantasy movie that will endure. 5 stars
7/15/15 ER Great acting. Not as great as "Shawshank", but what is? 4 stars
10/07/13 David An absolutely wonderful film 5 stars
11/22/09 art A PURE COCK ''N"" BULL STORY! 1 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner Stephen King wrote a great story!! 5 stars
7/09/08 Farnsy A touching film 4 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White disturbing and redemptive in same story 5 stars
1/03/08 jackie brown Quite simply its THE best movie ever 5 stars
10/08/07 KNurse excellent of the best movies ever made 5 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap Dark, disturbing and a hell of a sad ending that will make you ask, why WHY?! 5 stars
2/13/07 Jacko A long but great movie. 5 stars
11/21/06 Quigley More disturbing than "Shawshank Redemption" for sure; very good acting and sharp direction 4 stars
9/26/06 Luisa the kind of film that will haunt your soul, love it! 5 stars
9/23/06 David Pollastrini very faithful adaptation 5 stars
5/06/06 Ashley Hinz Too disturbing for me. To be avoided. 2 stars
4/12/06 anthonyuk another classic from frank darabont, wonderful but sad 5 stars
4/10/06 anna best movie i´ve ever seen, the only one that made me cry 5 stars
3/14/06 David avery Very touching, heart rentching movie in every aspect. 5 stars
11/20/05 norma jean very touching. makes you think about if we should really have the electric chair! 5 stars
8/31/05 Michael Good Movie ... a subtle push to end the death penalty? 4 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma Beautiful cinematic masterpiece 5 stars
5/11/05 Simon The only movie in which I've teared up and had a lump in my throat. Simply moving. 5 stars
3/05/05 never wat the FUCK are you on daveman? the film had HEAPS of plot. fuck u this movie is sick 5 stars
3/04/05 Morbid Florist Phat 5 stars
12/27/04 mjoc A little long, but very good. 4 stars
12/23/04 Nick Boyd One of Stephen King's best 5 stars
11/17/04 Gooey Suck my rotted asshole Daveman, this movie rules. Stick your tounge in!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/27/04 Captain Planet Excellent movie, takes you through every emotion I can think of and more 5 stars
9/08/04 MEIRAV NORA COHEN wonderful and touching.Great cast. Beautiful story. 5 stars
8/28/04 G-man best Tom Hanks movie by far 5 stars
8/17/04 Anthony G eat my dick mark adnum, this movie owns 5 stars
7/04/04 Daveman Though generally well acted and crowd pleasingly directed, what this film needs is a plot. 2 stars
6/18/04 Leia in the Sky This film is REALLY good. No. It's great. That's what you could call a film! 5 stars
5/13/04 Vacha Moving, disturbing, tear-inducing. 4 stars
1/23/04 Abe Giesbrecht Work of art 5 stars
11/16/03 sean A movie in a class all its own, uncomparable to other films but here, I give it: 5 stars
10/30/03 I Would John Coffey's characterisation was too similar to Tom Robinson from To Kill A Mockingbird. 3 stars
10/18/03 Charles Tatum Excellent, everything "Shawshank" should have been 5 stars
9/29/03 Sonia ADAM My emotions didn´t calm down for two days 5 stars
9/17/03 Jinnvisible Show a nigger in chains / we side with the nigger,,,HOW CAN THAT BE RACIST? r u convinced ? 1 stars
9/10/03 migoloco Great movie with a lot of symbolism which may escape the uneducated 5 stars
6/30/03 John Bale Hanks makes plausable the impossible, in Stephen Kings most sympathetic novel, impressive. 5 stars
6/16/03 Andrew Carden Michael Clarke Duncan Is Superb; Great Direction & Cinematography. 5 stars
3/24/03 Jack Sommersby Its feel-ggod aspirations rob the material of its inherent grittiness. 1 stars
1/14/03 Paul Coleman Stirring and emotional. Thought provoking winner all the way! 5 stars
1/09/03 johnathon an outstanding move kept me on the edge of my seat 5 stars
1/01/03 Andy Todes it's no "shawshank" is it! see amazon for my full review in which i tear this joke apart 2 stars
12/05/02 Dipo Interesting, engaging and and definately worth A look 4 stars
12/03/02 George Jung The prisoners in this movie got fucked over, just like in OZ! 1 stars
11/25/02 Harry Boiled Good (if trying too hard) until the illogical, ridiculously manipulative ending 1 stars
11/25/02 Buddha If it were anymore emotionally manipulative it'd torture bunnies on screen. 3 stars
10/21/02 Joey Joe Joe Junoir Shabanu awsome movie just a little too long 5 stars
9/30/02 R.W. Welch Drawn out and overdrawn in spots, but imaginative enough to hold your interest. 4 stars
9/17/02 Zefram Mann I cried like a baby watching this movie, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. 5 stars
9/10/02 Ramblin Wreck The 75 year old mouse!!! 5 stars
9/04/02 Joe Zappa Darabont's a fucking miracle to the directing business. 5 stars
8/19/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) This is what I call a "Miracle Movie." Frank Darabont is one of the best directors ever!!!! 5 stars
8/15/02 Phil M. Aficionado 4.5 rounded up to 5. Issue: Why didn't they try to revisit the verdict? 5 stars
4/27/02 kati love it 5 stars
3/22/02 The $1.98 Pyramid A Powder rip-off 2 stars
2/28/02 Heather McCune great 5 stars
2/25/02 Jenny Tullwartz Can make mouse live 75 yrs; can't spare an innocent man - Is this a feel-good movie or what 2 stars
1/22/02 Jake Very powerful and engrossing throughout. 5 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent John Coffey like the drink only not spelled the same. 5 stars
1/17/02 Flick Chick this movie IS too long, and Tom is not my favorite actor. Even so, darn good movie. 4 stars
9/03/01 spaceworm Sometimes, "The Green Mile" is looooong... 4 stars
8/04/01 K.C. Au Plot summary : Hank's character can't pee, gets his balls squeezed, pees freely. FIN. 1 stars
6/10/01 Turtle Tom Hanks in a Stephen King movie: Is it Toy Cemetery? No, but it's much better: Green Mile 4 stars
5/28/01 cinkcool Great movie, suprised me. 5 stars
5/07/01 Ron Szalata Brilliant Movie 5 stars
4/30/01 Steph Williams This is the greatest made film I have seen. I wept and smiled over the gentle giant! 5 stars
4/13/01 Katherine Another excellent movie with Tom Hanks in it 5 stars
4/08/01 Dave Harris Long but fascinating. The big black dude is unforgettable. 5 stars
3/26/01 Monster W. Kung Sorry Darabont, I enjoyed Shawshank a lot, but to me this was lame. 2 stars
3/26/01 rg could watch it a few times over 5 stars
2/28/01 nothing sucks, except the time(2.5 hrs.) The Evil Penguin 4 stars
2/27/01 heff I'm brewin up some turds for you tomorrow 5 stars
2/24/01 Marie Pretty Good. Could have used some editing. 5 stars
2/12/01 Leather jacket How can disguised slavery be awesome?? 1 stars
2/10/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi The Academy can bite my ass...THIS is the best movie of 1999/2000!! 5 stars
2/08/01 Classicdog A must see!!! Awesome film!! 5 stars
2/04/01 Del R Too much complaining about Urinary tract infections. 2 stars
2/04/01 sam buck the movie made the book come alive 5 stars
1/21/01 Lauren Ciccone A beautiful, intricate spellbinding film. Steven King's Magnum Opus! 5 stars
1/15/01 Sheltia Mccadney This film was a work of art. It left tears in my eyes. 5 stars
12/27/00 Turtle I meant 'Worth a Look' the first time. Sorry. 4 stars
12/27/00 Turtle A magically wonderful movie that will make you laugh, cry, and al those things! 5 stars
12/17/00 Green Yeyed Pea Great film... King rules 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla masterful, one of the best movies of the end of the century!!! 5 stars
11/27/00 moviegoer wonderfully done, loved Tom Hanks 5 stars
11/27/00 Steven Spielberg (no kidding) I should have made this movie! 5 stars
11/14/00 MiS^DeMeAnOr I LOVED it! 5 stars
11/14/00 The EVIL Penguin Stephen King is the man! Made me cry when John is executed. 5 stars
11/04/00 Clifton Wynter One of the Great film ever made about Capital Punishment in America. 5 stars
11/03/00 paul rogers the best film ever made 5 stars
10/29/00 steven hargreaves i'd rather walk a mile over broken glass than watch this shit again. 1 stars
10/05/00 lainey louise michael duncan is awesome-great movie 5 stars
7/28/00 Blackavar it takes a lifetime to see such a great movie, a gem that grabs part of you 5 stars
7/18/00 kittykat i loved it 5 stars
6/27/00 Ionicera Very enjoyable as an allegory, if a little over the top 4 stars
6/26/00 Michael Grimm great performances, tad long in parts though 5 stars
6/20/00 Monday Morning A terrific story, well told. Every bit as good as the book. 5 stars
6/18/00 Gen I'm not a fan of King but this was SO good 5 stars
6/15/00 Trina M. Barnard Must see. Not action packed, but good date movie:-) 5 stars
5/15/00 Tracy I just wanted to give JC a big hug. 5 stars
5/03/00 matt The best King novel adabtation ever!!! Shockingly better that Shawshank Redemtion 5 stars
3/29/00 L.NELSON An absolutely astonishing film.I would see again, thts for sure. 5 stars
3/23/00 Laura Beautiful 5 stars
3/18/00 Josh Great Acting and Directing (sam rockwell is a wow!!)never boring, and makes you think 5 stars
3/13/00 John Markham Like an extended X-FILES episode, when that series was good. Superb performances by all. 4 stars
3/12/00 Mark Atkinson Awesome Movie!!!! 5 stars
3/12/00 galea johan simply the best 5 stars
3/11/00 Franko1 An hour too far - truest words in film from Coffey: "I just want it to end" 3 stars
3/10/00 Matthew Bartley As good as Shawshank? Of course not. Brilliant all the same? Definitely 5 stars
3/07/00 Richard Wright If a film lasts over three hours and holds my interest until the end it must be good.See it 4 stars
3/02/00 john grove a quick three hours, sound honest emotions 4 stars
2/29/00 Bueller One of 1999's best. Incredible performances all around. Michael Clarke Duncan blew me away. 5 stars
2/29/00 Rachem Most manipulative film I've ever seen, but that Michael Clarke Duncan guy kicks ass! 5 stars
2/27/00 JimBob excellent movie, forgot it was three hours long 5 stars
2/24/00 Germanicus Brilliant adaptation of the King story. A little too long but well acted, shot and directed 5 stars
2/22/00 Joel Harwood VERY SAD MOVIE but tom does not deserve a oscar nomination 5 stars
2/19/00 Ian George Horseman Excellent movie..would pay $40.00 to see that quality movie 5 stars
2/18/00 Mic Too predictable and manipulative, but what the hell, still excellent. 4 stars
2/18/00 J Delay Loved it 5 stars
2/16/00 Jamie McGraw Long but holds the suspense - girlfriend said it's one of the best movies she's ever seen. 4 stars
2/14/00 Michael Drew A moving story of redemption 5 stars
2/12/00 JonnyAngel The 1013th image in the movie is the saddest thing I've ever seen. 3 stars
2/10/00 Matthew Smith a brilliant film, moving and disturbing 5 stars
2/09/00 BBReBozo The last image in the movie is the saddest thing I've ever seen. 5 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski LONG LIVE STEPHEN KING!!! 5 stars
1/17/00 Donna Starnes Great movie, I will see it again 5 stars
1/15/00 Kevin Cho Too pathetic - disappointing acting for a great cast, tried WAY TOO HARD for the Oscar. 3 stars
1/07/00 Jack Meier The best adapted storytelling on film 5 stars
1/03/00 Emily Bring a box of tissues 5 stars
1/01/00 sophia866 Enjoyable but voice over ending is lazy. Great cast. Solid but not transcendant 4 stars
12/31/99 K. Lackey fantastic 5 stars
12/30/99 The Dude A must see 5 stars
12/30/99 Fenris Very well done, but can't live up to Shawshank's glory. 5 stars
12/29/99 Roseanne Incredible 5 stars
12/25/99 aaron zarate truly an epic, deserves an oscar for b\supp actor 5 stars
12/19/99 Malbert Wait for rental-Too predictable, overhyped 3 stars
12/19/99 barak43 Not the greatest film I have ever seen, but it was very strong and moving. 5 stars
12/19/99 Laura All of my friends (male and female) bawled, I really didnt find it that moving though. 3 stars
12/19/99 katie highly entertaining. 5 stars
12/18/99 mike this movie is incredible 5 stars
12/17/99 Elan Davout No Shawshank, but good nonetheless 4 stars
12/16/99 brentorama Extremely entertaining. Better than Stephen King's Green Mile books. 5 stars
12/15/99 Jason S. By far THE best movie of 1999, Oscars all around!! 5 stars
12/15/99 Lindsay Wonderful, powerful and inspiring. It will make you speechless 5 stars
12/14/99 schmegs an amazingly true adaptation with powerful performances 5 stars
12/14/99 Dorgon The emperor is naked!!! 2 stars
12/13/99 The Bro Percy Wetmore should win an award for best bad guy. 5 stars
12/13/99 Beno The old Paul Edgecomb scenes seemed unnecessary, but othewise great movie! 5 stars
12/12/99 Sweet Caroline Inspiring! A tribute to King's work. 5 stars
12/12/99 jenn "Blu Smrf" amazing, powerful, touching, this movie makes you think, excellent! 5 stars
12/12/99 karen Excellent 5 stars
12/12/99 entropy amazing, a must see 5 stars
12/12/99 Matt The end was a little drawn-out, but other than that damn near perfect 5 stars
12/12/99 Old Sparky Unable to be more perfect in every way, except for bizarre, deceitful ending with old Paul 5 stars
12/11/99 Allen Konigsberg Bloated, incomprehensible, silly, "You can see it coming...a mile away!" 1 stars
12/04/99 theguy long, brilliant, embarassingly tear-inducing 5 stars
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  10-Dec-1999 (R)
  DVD: 14-Nov-2006



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