Before watching the movie:
All of the summaries I can see point to the story being about the two boys who form a friendship of outsiders, but Sharon Stone, the sick boy’s mother, seems to be featured even more prominently than it seems like she would just because she’s the biggest name in the cast. I get the sense that she’s the viewpoint character.
The story being around a boy with Morquio Syndrome and his parent puts me in mind of Lorenzo’s Oil, which is all about the parents trying to keep their son alive. It’s also a movie I was shown in high school, and another reason this makes me think of that is because my friend Kellie recently rediscovered it as a movie she was shown in grade school. This post was suggested by Kellie and has input from her. She has agreed that I may limit mentions of how hot she is for Gillian Anderson to two (this one might not count).
After watching the movie:
Max Kane has always been big, but having failed seventh grade twice, he now towers over his classmates, only overshadowed by the legacy of his father being jailed for his mother’s murder. When “Freak” Dillon, a seventh-grader with Morquio syndrome whose stunted growth has caused him to barely be able to move around with crutches and instead pushed him to develop his mind, leaves the special education school to join Max’s school, as well as moving into the other side of the duplex, circumstances quickly put them together, and soon Max is sweeping Freak onto his shoulders to run from the bullies Freak taunted. Though Max hesitates to make this a regular thing, because Freak’s adventures always seem to get him in trouble, they form a friendship around Freak’s love of Arthurian legend, considering themselves Knights of the Realm, judged by their deeds, not their origins. However, their quest fantasies also lead them to cross paths with personal demons that are very real indeed.
It seems like most stories about friendship are about how friendship feels good and friends can provide the emotional support to carry on through adversity. Here, the message is more about teamwork. Kellie called this movie formative in her understanding of teamwork, imparting a lesson about how Max and Freak together are greater than their sum in a way that feature-length movies rarely manage as successfully as edutainment cartoons.
I don’t know how to think of Kieran Culkin past “Macaulay’s younger brother”, though looking quickly at their acting credits it’s probably well past time to think of them the other way around. I thought Elden Henson was an unknown for this movie, but he’s not only in all three Mighty Ducks movies of which I have actually seen the first one, but lately he’s played a major role on the Netflix Daredevil series. James Gandolfini, the grandparents, and Sharon Stone (who has a very minor part in the story for a mother of a dying child) are all well done. Grim and Gram are actually very convincing grandparents. Loretta is in all of three scenes, but we get to see a lot of her character across those scenes, how some contexts can bring out the kind of person she might have been in other circumstances. Also she’s played by Gillian Anderson, so she takes a lot of Kellie’s attention when on screen.
The weird kid who burns bright but briefly actually reminds me a lot more of Simon Birch (Owen Meany in the book) than Lorenzo’s Oil. As Max narrates the story, while much of it is about how great they are together, he ends by talking about how singular a person Freak was. But even so, Max is only able to do that through what Freak brought out in him, which is going to last much longer than Freak’s body. Even as a story about an objectively special person catalyzing a coming of age in the viewpoint character, this stands out in showing over telling.
And that’s how I saw a great kids’ movie because Kellie has a crush on Agent Scully.