The Mighty

The Mighty

The Mighty
Theatrical release poster
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
Starring Sharon Stone
Gena Rowlands
Gillian Anderson
Harry Dean Stanton
Kieran Culkin
James Gandolfini
Elden Henson
Music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography John de Borman
Edited by Martin Walsh
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • October 9, 1998 (1998-10-09)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,652,246[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.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Kevin (Kieran Culkin) is a 13-year-old boy who suffers Mucopolysaccharidosis IV (or Morquio syndrome) and lives with his mother Gwen (Sharon Stone). He is extremely intelligent and prone to flights of fancy, but is physically crippled and is forced to walk with crutches and a brace. Max (Elden Henson) is an over-sized, yet, good-natured teenage boy suffering from dyslexia who lives with his grandparents Gram (Gena Rowlands) and Grim (Harry Dean Stanton). He has flunked the seventh grade twice and is tormented by Tony "Blade" Fowler (Joseph Perrino), a teenage gang leader. 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 (Kevin's dad heard the words "Birth Defect" and disappeared).

Kevin and Max go to a local festival to watch a firework show and get attacked by Blade and his gang called the "Doghouse Boys". The two escape into a nearby lake with Kevin riding on Max's shoulders and they make it out okay. Kevin later witnesses that same gang of teens 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 Kevin, 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 Kevin see the purse belongs to a woman named Loretta Lee (Gillian Anderson). Kevin 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 when he was a child and, after some questioning, she and Iggy learn that Max is the son of the infamous murderer Kenny "Killer" Kane, who brutally murdered Max's mother by strangling her to death when Max was around 4 years old (That is the reason why Max lives with Grim and Gram), and an old friend of Iggy's from prison. Afterward, the two boys help each other out with Kevin acting as Max's brain, and Max acting as Kevin's legs by carrying him around everywhere on his shoulders. This allows Kevin to partake in activities he couldn't before such as a basketball game.

Kevin and Max are rising to fame, and they sit on a table with their friends. As Max is getting his food, Kevin is playing with his noodles and attempting to impress his classmates. Kevin eats his noodles but chokes and blocks his airway. He is rushed to the hospital, with the doctor telling his mom that he may only have one year to live considering his progressively failing health.

One day, Kevin showed Max where he'd be rehabilitated at a research center. It appears that he knew about his little time to live, as he said that he'd be the first one to be rehabilitated in about one year or so.

On Christmas Eve, Max is kidnapped by his father (James Gandolfini), who has recently been released from prison on parole. Max is taken to Loretta's home by Kane, who tries to strangle Loretta after she attempts to help Max escape. This leads to Max remembering when Kane murdered Max's mother, which was one of the reasons why Kane went to prison in the first place.

Kevin, having tracked Max and Killer Kane to Iggy and Loretta's, breaks in with a squirt gun The Fair Gwen (Kevin's mom) got him for Christmas and tells Killer Kane that he has sulfuric acid in it. Kevin shoots Killer Kane with the squirt gun and Kane thinks his eyes are burning despite the actually harmless compounds that are in the vial (soap, vinegar, and chili powder).

An angered Killer Kane attempts to attack Kevin. Max reacts and attacks his own father in order to prevent him from harming Kevin. Police come and arrest Kane, who is then incarcerated to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Max and Kevin go home and celebrate Christmas. After exchanging gifts, Kevin gives Max an empty book and tells Max to write in it.

The next morning, Kevin dies in his sleep, due to cardiac troubles. Max, not bearing to leave his friend, chases after the ambulance. Recalling an earlier conversation with Kevin on how he would get a new body from a research center, Max heads there immediately, only to discover that Kevin had lied and the research center is really a commercial laundromat. Max breaks down among the workers.

For the next few weeks, he continues going to school, but spends his spare time locked in his basement, even missing Kevin's funeral and Kevin's mother moving away. However, after running into Loretta (now wearing a neck brace due to Killer Kane strangling her) at a bus stop, she reminds him that "[doing] nothing's a drag", he decides he has to go on, and even works up the courage to answer a question his teacher presents to the class.

Inspired by their bond, Max remembers Kevin and all the adventures they had and he decides to write it all in the empty book Kevin 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 Kevin again. Max takes the old ornithopter (his mechanical air plane) that belonged to Kevin and he 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").


  1. ^ The Mighty at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ The Mighty at Rotten Tomatoes

External links