Driving Miss Daisy (1989) – 4/5

Decent, well-directed little film that’s somewhat schmaltzy at times but also much more restrained than I was expecting given its subject and its place in film history. And, finally, a performance from Morgan Freeman that actually required him to act! I didn’t think such a thing existed. And act he does; he’s the best thing in this film.

Everyone else is okay to terrible, like Dan Aykroyd who can’t seem to decide whether he’s giving a comic performance or a stern, serious one. He seems to have trouble telling the two apart at times. And the woman who plays Miss Daisy left a lot to be desired too. She’s better at the end when she’s more weak and feeble and can’t talk as much, but some of her line deliveries are just plain stiff. That’s what she said, yeah yeah. I can’t believe she won an Academy Award for this. Whatever. Just one more reason to take their stupid award selections with a grain of salt. Jonah Hill for best actor? Really? I’m never going to get over that. You hear me, Academy? Never!

The plot is hoakey and simplistic and pretty easy to predict, but it’s entertaining, and Freeman’s devoted performance keeps it engaging. And it doesn’t push its agenda too hard, which I found especially remarkable given its many, many opportunities to do otherwise. It milks it just the right amount, delivering a message that is poignantly subtle rather than annoyingly obvious and overblown. See the crappy “Crash” for an example of what happens when someone who doesn’t know how to write or direct decides to make a movie about racism.

Overall, I enjoyed this film, questionable acting/writing and all. It’s simple and has its charms, and, I don’t normally notice these things, but some great, great aging makeup. Well done.

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