The Reel Review
“The Negro Motorist Green Book” was an annual travel guide for black Americans from the 1930s through the mid 1960s, informing them of establishments where they were welcomed in the segregationist Deep South. When world class pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) decides to tour the region in 1962, he hires a street smart, working class Italian-American from the Bronx (Viggo Mortensen) to serve as his driver and bodyguard.
Director Peter Farrelly, half of the brother duo behind gross-out comedies Dumb and Dumber and Something About Mary, deftly ticks all of the emotional boxes in this more grown up, feel good, buddy flick based on a true story – a Driving Miss Daisy/Thelma and Louise mashup with switched up races and genders. And it works, thanks to cute, crowd pleasing humor, impeccable art direction that transports moviegoers back in time, and charismatic, nuanced performances from Ali (Moonlight) and Mortensen, capturing the unexpected friendship that evolved between the two men during one of the nation’s more shameful eras.
• Editions of the Green Book can be found online at https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/the-green-book#/?tab=about
• Frank Vallelonga (aka Tony Lip) began an acting career following his film debut as an extra in 1972’s The Godfather. Besides roles in Goodfellas and Donnie Branco, he is best known for his role as crime boss Carmine Lupertazzi in HBO’s The Sopranos
• The hot dog eating scene in the first few minutes of the movie was filmed at the iconic Clover Grill on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. In fact, with the exception of a few exterior shots of New York City, most of the film was shot on location in and around New Orleans, Shreveport and other parts of Louisiana.