review for The Mighty on AllMovie

The Mighty (1998)
by Derek Armstrong review

Ably sidestepping treacle, the modern fairy tale The Mighty succeeds on the strength of true performances by the pituitary-challenged Elden Henson and Kieran Culkin (showcasing far more natural ability than ever displayed by his older brother, McCauley). That the latter child actor rides around on the shoulders of the former for much of the movie, together one complete boy, makes them a defiant rather than pitiable twosome, shrugging off the everyday abuses that dot their lives. John DeBorman's inventive camerawork draws out the wonder from Charles Leavitt's clean adaptation, while Peter Chelsom's solid direction further strengthens the package. The decision to split the narrative into chapters, each dressed up with medieval flourishes, also effectively translates the epic spirit of the children's storytelling. What doesn't seem quite so neat is that the boys' adventures actually take on the life-or-death quality of knightly combat; fellow eighth graders come at them with knives, really meaning to cut them, and they become embroiled with an escaped convict who wants their blood. One wouldn't think a boy on crutches and a harmless giant would warrant such heavy artillery. The quiet moments of friendship are better, making it easy for a viewer to dream away into the world they create. The Mighty is a minor film, to be sure, but it's a pleasing one.