The Mighty

As was apparent in the uneven Funny Bones, there’s something pretty shameless about director Peter Chelsom when he goes into tear-jerking mode, and this six-handkerchief weepieadapted by Charles Leavitt from Rodman Philbrick’s novel Freak the Mightypulls out all the stops. A large, friendless, apparently retarded 13-year-old (Elden Henson) who lives with his grandparents (Gena Rowlands and Harry Dean Stanton) teams up with the fast-talking, brilliant cripple (Kieran Culkin) who’s moved in next door with his mother (Sharon Stone); together they come on like gangbusters. There’s a lot of magical-realist stuffor should I say guff?about King Arthur’s knights of the Round Table, most of which I could have done without, an offscreen narration by Henson that I rarely believed in, and a snarling villain out of D.W. Griffith. But portions of this inspirational claptrap touched me in spite of everything. (JR)

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