Making the Grades
Max (Eldon Henson) is big. He's 13 and towers above the rest of his class. But for every inch of height, he's missing courage and smarts, making him an easy target for the neighborhood bullies.
Across the tall fence in Max's backyard, lives new kid Kevin (Kieran Culkin)--with brains and nerve, and a crippled body. Along with his love for science and reading, Kevin badly wants to do the things other kids do, like play basketball. Struggling to walk with his awkward braces, his dream seems impossible--until he meets Max.
It's during a fireworks celebration that Max makes the move that will change their lives. Watching Kevin struggle to see above the crowd, the strong boy suddenly picks him up and places him high upon his shoulders. "You need a brain, I need legs, and the Wizard of Oz doesn't live in Cincinnati," exclaims Kevin to Max. The next day they go to school, the "Freak" as he's called, proudly riding the shoulders of Max, who will soon be dubbed "The Mighty."
This tremendous film warranted far more advertising than it was given. Only bringing in a pitiful 2 million at the box office, it deserves to live a long and prosperous life on the rental shelves. Positive portrayals of parents, teachers, and police abound in this wonderful story that doesn't resort to silly comics or unbelievable happy endings. A strong caution, however, is required for the sequences following the parole of Kevin's father. The suspense of these scenes may be frightening to young children, even though the confrontation is solved with help from the police and minimal violence.
If you as a parent are tired of movies featuring teens that represent everything negative in society, The Mighty will be a welcome change. Max and Kevin's hero is King Arthur, and they try to follow his code of chivalry. The world is full of mighty teens (I have met some of them) and it's about time their stories were told on the screen.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Mighty.
Max’s grandfather immediately reaches for his gun when he feels his family may be threatened. Max’s grandmother, however, counsels her husband to not let hate rule their home. How will her advice effect Max’s decisions later in life?
When Kevin discovers Max is in trouble, he risks his life to save him, instead of first calling the police (a common practice in movies). Why do you think movies are written in this way? How would it change the stories if the police were called in at the beginning? What might have happened to Max and Kevin if the police had not arrived in time? What should you do if confronted with a dangerous situation in reality?
Max and Kevin are both picked on and bullied in their school, yet, when they get together and arrive with Kevin perched on Max’s shoulder, they are met with curious looks but are soon accepted. How does our self-confidence and sense of self-worth affect the way others see us? What are some non-violent ways that bullying was dealt with in this film?