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October 21, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-21

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10 - The Michigan Daily -Wednesday, October 21, 1998

Strength of heart makes kid 'mighty

EriMn Podolfty
Daily Arts Writer
Every so often, there are children's stories
that transcend their genre, that break free and
soar above the mundane territory of small
words and short sentences and paper charac-
ters. Earlier this fall, "Simon Birch" snuck
into theaters with its ambitious portrayal of the
relationship of a pipsqueak of a kid with a
whopper of a mind and his outsider-but-other-
wise-normal best friend.
Now comes "The Mighty," a tale of a pip-
squeak of a kid with a whopper of a mind and
his outsider-but-otherwise-normal best friend.
The difference between the two is this:
"Simon Birch" tugs at your heartstrings with-
out offering much more than a simple story of
love and trust that is outweighed by its melo-
dramatically lofty goals and periodic heavy-
handedness. "The Mighty" breaks your heart
without ever trying to - it is beautifully
-understated and never takes anything for
granted, and it is because of this that you
shouldn't let one of the better films of the sea-

At Showcase
' \

son slip through your fin-
gers. It may be more of a
fanciful and imaginative
children's film than any-
thing else, but it still has
much to offer viewers of
an older variety.
Kevin Dillon (Kieran
Culkin), better known as
Freak in the film, is a
bright young boy who
scuttles around like a spi-
der on crutches, spine
curved beyond recognition
and large eyes peeking out
from his glasses-rimmed
pale face. He suffers from

brain/brawn supercombo. A lady's wallet is
stolen and recovered by the chivalrous two-
some. Improbable scenes like a midnight
toboggan run are successfully navigated with-
in the realistic-yet-imagination-driven world
of the film. None are so important as the bond
between the two misfits.
Gillian Anderson has a small but important
role as a campy, drunken white trash glam girl
out of Max's past with a penchant for heavy
makeup - for those "X-Files" fans who didn't
think their beloved Scully could ever become
another character, think again. Even this X-
Phile was pleasantly surprised.
Harry Dean Stanton and the peerless Gena
Rowlands clock in as Max's primary caregiv-
ing grandparents and display touching concern
for their young charge who looks more and
more every day like their black sheep son-in-
law. Sharon Stone has no trouble playing the
non-sexpot mom and conveys a love for both
boys that is it wholly believable.
The film is based on the Rodman Philbrick's
children's novel, "Freak the Mighty," but it
shows no sign of immature language or cater-
ing to children. Director Peter Chelsom deftly
crafts the tale of the two boys with a hand that
implies knowledge of the cruelty of adoles-
cence, the hardships of life and the power of
friendship. His handling of the performances
by Culkin and Henson is exceptional, never
striking a false note.
Culkin is especially impressive as the crip-
pled Freak, handling both the physical
demands of his role and line delivery without
faltering (or falling prey to the woodenness
characteristic of some of his older brother
Macauley's roles). His talent shines equally in
scenes of serious import and charismatic cam-
"The Mighty" is at once a sad and victorious
film, celebrating life in the face of harsh cir-
cumstance. It is a fable taken from a children's
book, but that doesn't make it inaccessible to
adults. Its final act is hugely unfair, robbing us
of a character we have come to know and love.
A mechanical bird that Freak builds early in
the film, once caught in a tree and rendered
flightless, is rescued by a newly empowered
Max and given to fly once again.
The movie's triumph is the relationship
between these two outsiders, set apart from
their peers by cruel tricks of nature and cir-
cumstances beyond their control. They bear
the weight of their fathers' sins, their mothers'
love, and their own hopes and dreams. They
collaborate against their enemies and unite as
one huge being, Freak the Mighty, a giant
body without a brain and a giant brain without
a body, standing tall in the saddle as King
Arthur once did at Camelot. And as Arthur's
spirit lives on to this day in legend and lore, so
will Freak's spirit live on in the great gift he
gives to Max: the power of words.

Morquio's syndrome, which makes his bones
stop growing while his organs continue to get
bigger, and eventually, as is poignantly said,
his heart will just get too big for his body.
What his bones lack in cell growth, his mind
makes up for - he subscribes to the theory
that "you can think your way out of anything,
even pain."
Freak moves in next door to classmate Max
Kane (Elden Henson), a hulking adolescent
gentle giant in the midst of his third stint as a
seventh grader who tells us in just one of many
(but never overbearing) voiceovers, "when
you're in the seventh grade and you look like
Godzilla, you're gonna get the looks and
you're gonna get the whispers." He feels that
people look at him as if he was on last night's
episode of "America's Most Wanted." Self-
aware but unable to help himself, Max is the
subject of his classmates' ridicule and even
physical violence, something that Freak finds
hard to comprehend because, as he succinctly
puts it, Max is "built like the Terminator."

Future Cop:
Electronic Arts
Ever want to cause damage
and do massive destruction
with high tech weaponry and
have justification for doing
so? Now it's possible - at
least on Playstation. In
"Future Cop: L.A.P.D." the
player is a member of the
most notorious police depart-
ment in the United States, the
Los Angeles Police
Department. This game has
got it all - high tech
weapons, drugs, politically
incorrect connotations and
what human nature craves
for: violence.
Electronic Arts first
planned "Future Cop" to be
another installation of their
successful "Strike" series,
which included games like
"Desert Strike" and "Nuclear
Strike." This game is very
similar to the other "Strike"
games, only this time players
pilot a vehicle that can also
transform into a hovercraft
instead of a mere helicopter.
The introduction immedi-
ately draws one into the game
with overwhelming graphics
and explosive displays of the
firepower possessed by the
craft. The story is that L.A. is
now fully devoid of all
angels. It's now chock full of
mutants, drug dealers and
cults. Of course, the player
must kill all these groups on
sight, making one wonder
whether or not the game mir-
rors the real L.A.P.D. and
how it treats unfavorables.
The awesome music, a com-
bination of heavy beats and
techno elements, adds even
more excitement and antici-
The gameplay is in no way
disappointing. Your expecta-
tions are fully met with great
control which, while
extremely touchy, is neces-
sary for tight situations.
There is plenty of ammo so
there's little need to conserve
it. Additionally, the radio
contact who gives lots of
great advice and smart
remarks is surprisingly not
The idea of this game is not
exactly original, but the set-
ting the LAPD is a nice, if
controversial, touch. The only
bad part of "Future Cop" is
that some levels are extreme-
ly long in playing time. Since
the player can only save after
completion of a level, dying
near the end of the level
means that you have to go
through the whole area again,
which could be frustrating.
There is a map to guide you,
but you could still easily get
confused and spend valuable
time trying to find where you





Kieran Culkin (top) and Elden Henson star in Peter Chelsom's "The Mighty."

First enmity, then bonding ensues, all with-
out the sickly sweet strings of melodrama and
heartwarming Kodak moments. Freak tutors
the remedial reading-bound Max, teaching
him about the great King Arthur and his
Knights of the Round Table and giving him
advice that turns out to be the basis for the
entire film: "Every word is part of a picture;
every sentence is a picture. All you do is let
your imagination connect them together." Max
hoists Freak on his shoulders and gives him an
outlook on life like nothing he had ever
Freak chides Max for not having enough of
an imagination to envision the words on the
written page coming to life. By the film's end

he has imparted his limitless knowledge to
Max; he takes Freak's words as gospel, even
thinking that because Freak said so, a laundry
facility is going to build Freak a new "bio-
genetically improved" body - it's not so
much that Max is stupid, but that he trusts his
friend so completely that even the fantastic
seems possible, and that even when Freak is
gone, Max can still conjure him through words
and imagination.
There are, of course, various other subplots:
Max's father is in prison for a heinous crime
that has forced Max to bear the stigma of
"Killer Kane" all through his childhood along
with his own repressed memories. Young
hoodlums are taught a lesson by the



- I

Book satires industry

J. Crewd
Justin Racz
Don't you hate it when, after waiting
four to six weeks, you receive a mail-
order sweater and your first time wearing
it, the classmate across the room has the
exact same one? Have you ever found
yourself knee-high in a pile of posh
clothing catalogues - all of which sell
the identical chambray shirt? If this is the
case, "J. Crewd" is just the relief your
credit card has been yearning for. This
tongue in cheek look at the silliness of
modern consumerism laughs at every-
thing - from religion, to cloning, to
wedgies to safe sex.
At first glance, the book appears just
like one of the numerous mail-order cat-
alogues: full-page photos of beautiful
people looking at ease while performing
some of the most irregular tasks; differ-
ent color options perfectly layered one on
top of the other; photographs of led
Kaczynski sporting an item from the
Unabomber Jacket Collection ("wear it
for life"). Well, maybe this is not your
every-day collection of clothes.
One of the first pages boast that the
clothes are "handmade" and that the
"workshop bubbles with good cheer and
a plucky spirit." This statement lies on
top of a full-page photo of sweatshop
laborers sewing buttons on to shirts. But

that is perhaps tame for this politically
incorrect assault.
In the "intimates" department, you
won't only find lingerie and underwear
- but how do designer condoms sound?
The "cargo fit" and the "greek sheik"-
complete with your fraternity's Greek let-
ters - are two of the most popular mod-
els. Some other big-sellers from this
department include the wife-beater with
your choice of flavored sauce stain and a
fleece-lined jock-strap, the "Hot Jock."
Perhaps the most tasteless section
relates to religiously charged garments
and accessories. For Christians, there is
the "Dovetail 600 Choirboy" robe collec-
tion, which can be bought in colors rang-
ing from "hell" (red) to "lust" (purple).
This is not to be outdone by the articles
for Jewish people including the "Classic
Yarmulke," available in many colors
including "Greenberg" (green),
"Blueberg" (blue) and "Schwartz"
Despite its short length "J. Crewd"
provides endless laughter and gives shop-
ping-by-mail an overdue reality check.
The pop-culture allusions pour out thick
from the pages and never stop to apolo-
gize for impropriety. And it is that gall
that makes this so enjoyable. The author
never hesitates to make a would-be
offensive crack at any group of people.
His commentaries on society come
through loud and clear. Now, if only they
cold solve that sweater problem ...
-Aaron Rich







The replay value is perhaps
the best feature "Future Cop"
has to offer. In order to get
rid of all those puny punks
trying to put you down with
their peashooters, you can
use various powerful
weapons with laser sighting,
wasting massive amounts of
ammunition for the enjoy-
ment of setting people's
heads on fire and watching
their bodies burst into little
messes on the ground.
Players should remember
they're dealing with mutants,
drug dealersand psycho cult
followers here.
If the levels for single-
player action seem a little
hard, players may ask a friend
to jump in and join the car-
nage and spread a little love
with the two-player coopera-
tive mode. Or if two players
have a mutual friendly con-
flict, they have the option of
going to two-player competi-
tive mode and challenging -
each other to a duel. Duels
emphasize strategy more than
action as one tries to destroy
the other's base and protect
one's own by building gun


The Michigan Union Program Board and
Mortar Board proudly present:
Faculty Wednesdays
at the University Club

Michigan Union Bookstore
Oct. 19-24 11-4 p.m.
(734) 995-8877

How the Brain Get's Wired Up:
The Yuck Factor
with Biology Professor
John Kuwada


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