The Mighty

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The Mighty
The mighty movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed by Peter Chelsom
Produced by Simon Fields
Jane Startz
Don Carmody
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Julie Goldstein
Deborah Forte
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
Release date
  • October 9, 1998 (1998-10-09)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.7 million[1]

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 "Freak" Dillon (Kieran Culkin) is a 13-year-old boy who has Mucopolysaccharidosis IV (or Morquio syndrome) and lives with his mother Gwen Dillon (Sharon Stone). He is extremely intelligent and prone to flights of fancy, but due to his disability walks with leg braces and crutches. Maxwell "Max" Kane (Elden Henson) is a 15-year-old oversized, yet good-natured, teenage boy who suffers from dyslexia and lives with his maternal grandparents Susan "Gram" (Gena Rowlands) and Elton "Grim" Pinneman (Harry Dean Stanton). He has flunked the seventh grade twice and is tormented by Tony "Blade" Fowler (Joseph Perrino), a teenage juvenile delinquent from the same school as Freak and Max, who is also the leader of the "Doghouse Boys", a teenage bully gang. 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.

Freak and Max go to a local festival to watch a firework show and get attacked by Blade and his gang. The two escape into a nearby lake with Freak riding on Max's shoulders. Freak later witnesses the "Doghouse Boys" 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 Freak, 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 Freak found out the purse belongs to a woman named Loretta Lee (Gillian Anderson). Freak 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 his childhood; she and Iggy were old friends of Max's father, Kenny "Killer" Kane, who is currently serving a prison sentence for the murder of Max's mother. Afterward, the two boys help each other out with Freak acting as Max's brain, and Max acting as Freak's legs by carrying him around everywhere on his shoulders. This allows Freak to partake in activities he couldn't before, such as a basketball game.

Freak, in an attempt to entertain his friends by playing with his food, chokes on it and collapses. He is rushed to the hospital, where Gwen is informed that Freak has only a year left to live, due to his deteriorating health accelerated by the blockage of his airways.

One day, Freak shows Max a research center where he was to be rehabilitated. It appears that he knew about his condition, as he stated that he'd be the first one to be retrofitted with a new body.

On Christmas Eve, Max is kidnapped by Kenny, who has been released from prison on parole. Max is taken to Iggy and Loretta's apartment and tied up. Loretta discreetly attempts to help Max escape, which leads to Kenny attempting to strangle her. Max uncovers a repressed memory of Kenny killing his mother; he breaks free of his bounds and attacks his father.

Freak tracks Max and Kenny to Iggy and Loretta's apartment and breaks in, armed with a squirt gun he claims is loaded with sulfuric acid, which he sprays in Kenny's eyes. Just as Kenny regains himself and attempts to attack Freak, Max tackles him through the wall, where the police are waiting. Kenny attempts to run away before getting tackled down by an officer and is taken back to prison to serve for life without the possibility of early parole, and Freak tells Max the squirt gun was loaded with harmless chemicals, such as soap and chili powder.

Freak and Max, along with Gwen, Grim and Gram, have Christmas dinner together. Exchanging gifts, Freak gives Max a blank book and tells him to write in it. That night, Freak dies in his sleep from heart problems. Max is woken to Gram breaking the news to him, and he gives chase to the ambulance on foot. Max recalls the research facility Freak had mentioned working on a cure. He rushes there, only to discover Freak had lied; it was actually a commercial laundromat. Max collapses, screaming in despair among the laundry workers.

For the next several weeks, Max continues going to school, but refuses to leave his room otherwise. He misses Freak's funeral and Gwen moving away. He later runs into Loretta at a bus stop, wearing a neck brace from Kenny's attempted strangulation. She tells him that doing "nothing's a drag". He takes this advice to heart, even working up the courage to answer a question from a teacher during a lecture.

Inspired by their bond, Max remembers Freak and all the adventures they had and he decides to write it all in the empty book Freak 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 Freak again. Max takes Freak's ornithopter and winds it up, making it fly. A narration by Max is heard as the ornithopter flies off:



The film received positive reviews, currently holding a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus simply states: "Heavy-handed and overwrought."[2]

The Mighty was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Sharon Stone) and Best Original Song ("The Mighty").


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