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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Chelsom|
|Produced by||Simon Fields
|Screenplay by||Charles Leavitt|
|Based on||Freak the Mighty
by Rodman Philbrick
|Music by||Trevor Jones|
|Cinematography||John de Borman|
|Edited by||Martin Walsh|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$2.7 million|
The Mighty is a 1998 drama film directed by Peter Chelsom and based on the book Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. The film stars Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands, Gillian Anderson, Harry Dean Stanton, Kieran Culkin, James Gandolfini, and Elden Henson.
Kevin (Kieran Culkin) is a 13-year-old boy who has Mucopolysaccharidosis IV (or Morquio syndrome) and lives with his mother Gwen (Sharon Stone). He is extremely intelligent and prone to flights of fancy but due to his disability walks with leg braces and crutches. Max (Elden Henson) is a 15-year-old oversized, yet good-natured, teenage boy suffering from dyslexia who lives with his maternal grandparents Gram (Gena Rowlands) and Grim (Harry Dean Stanton). He has flunked the seventh grade twice and is tormented by Tony "Blade" Fowler (Joseph Perrino), a teenage gang leader. When Kevin is assigned as Max's reading tutor, they form a bond of friendship over the similar circumstances they share, such as both being outcasts and their fathers abandoning them (Kevin's dad heard the words "Birth Defect" and disappeared).
Kevin and Max go to a local festival to watch a firework show and get attacked by Blade and his gang called the "Doghouse Boys". The two escape into a nearby lake with Kevin riding on Max's shoulders and they make it out okay. Kevin later witnesses that same gang of teens putting someone's purse in a sewer. The two retrieve the purse, but, are once again confronted by Blade and his gang. They attempt to attack Kevin, but Max stops them by picking up a manhole cover and throwing it at the gang, who run away, fearing for their lives. Both Max and Kevin see the purse belongs to a woman named Loretta Lee (Gillian Anderson). Kevin and Max return the purse to Loretta and find out that she is married to Iggy Lee (Meat Loaf), a former gang leader.
Loretta recognizes Max from when he was a child and, after some questioning, she and Iggy learn that Max is the son of the infamous murderer Kenny "Killer" Kane, who brutally murdered Max's mother by strangling her to death when Max was around 4 years old (which is why Max lives with Grim and Gram), and an old friend of Iggy's from prison. Afterward, the two boys help each other out with Kevin acting as Max's brain, and Max acting as Kevin's legs by carrying him around everywhere on his shoulders. This allows Kevin to partake in activities he couldn't before such as a basketball game.
Kevin and Max are now well-known to their schoolmates, and they sit at a lunch table with their friends. As Max is getting his food, Kevin is playing with his noodles and attempting to impress his classmates. Kevin eats his noodles but chokes and blocks his airway. He is taken to the hospital, where the doctor tells Gwen that he may only have one year to live given his progressively failing health.
One day, Kevin showed Max a research center where he was to be rehabilitated. It appears that he knew about his condition, as he said that he'd be the first one to be retrofitted with a new body.
On Christmas Eve, Max is kidnapped by his father (James Gandolfini), who had been in prison since Max's mother's murder and had recently been released on parole. Max is taken to Iggy and Loretta's apartment by Kane, who tries to strangle Loretta after she attempts to help Max escape. This leads to Max remembering how Kane murdered Max's mother, which was one of the reasons why Kane went to prison in the first place.
Kevin tracks Max and Killer Kane to Iggy and Loretta's, and breaks in with a squirt gun his mom got him for Christmas. He tells Killer Kane that he has sulfuric acid in it. Kevin shoots Killer Kane with the squirt gun and Kane thinks his eyes are burning from acid; Kevin actually filled the gun with harmless compounds (soap, vinegar, and chili powder).
An angered Killer Kane attempts to attack Kevin. Max reacts and attacks his own father in order to prevent him from harming Kevin. Police come and arrest Kane, who is then incarcerated to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Max and Kevin go home and celebrate Christmas. After exchanging gifts, Kevin gives Max an empty book and tells Max to write in it. Kevin dies in his sleep due to heart problems.
The next morning, Max learns of Kevin's death. Not wanting to leave his friend, he chases after the ambulance. Recalling his conversation with Kevin on how he would get a new body from a research center, Max heads there immediately, only to discover that Kevin had lied and the research center is really a commercial laundromat. Heart-broken, Max breaks down with grief among the laundry workers.
For the next few weeks, he continues going to school, but spends his spare time locked in his basement, even missing Kevin's funeral and Kevin's mother moving away. But he runs into Loretta (now wearing a neck brace due to Killer Kane strangling her) at a bus stop, and she reminds him that "[doing] nothing's a drag". He decides he has to go on, and even works up the courage to answer a question his teacher presents to the class.
Inspired by their bond, Max remembers Kevin and all the adventures they had and he decides to write it all in the empty book Kevin had given him. Max eventually gets writer's block on the last page so he puts an illustration of King Arthur's grave, which reads, "Here Lies King Arthur, Once and Future King", to symbolize his belief that he will see Kevin again. Max takes Kevin's ornithopter and winds it up, making it fly. A narration by Max is heard as the ornithopter flies off:
|“||And by the time we get here, which I guess should be the end, you're gonna know the story of Freak the Mighty, who slayed dragons, saved maidens, and walked high above the world.||”|
- Elden Henson as Maxwell "Max" Kane/The Mighty
- Kieran Culkin as Kevin Dillon/Freak
- Sharon Stone as Gwen Dillon
- Gena Rowlands as Susan "Gram" Pinneman
- Harry Dean Stanton as Elton "Grim" Pinneman
- James Gandolfini as Kenny "Killer" Kane
- Gillian Anderson as Loretta Lee
- Meat Loaf as Iggy Lee
- Jenifer Lewis as Mrs. Addison
- Joseph Perrino as Tony Fowler (Blade)
- Dov Tiefenbach as Doghouse Boy #1
- Michael Colton as Doghouse Boy #2
- Daniel Lee as Doghouse Boy #3