It sounds like the set up for a joke: a director best known for films like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary” teams up with an Oscar winner and a two-time Oscar nominee to tell a fact-based story about mismatched travelers (one white, one black) making their way through the Deep South in 1962, but “Green Book” is a very real film, and it seems to hint at a slight change of pace for filmmaker Peter Farrelly.
Based on the — real-life! — story of a ’60s-set road trip involving an Italian-American bouncer-turned-driver (Mortensen, playing a a dude who goes by the name “Tony Lip”) and a famous pianist (Ali, set to play Don Shirley), “Green Book” is named after the guidebooks that black travelers would refer to when attempting to move through areas of segregation. The film’s first trailer lays on the strangeness of the pairing, and while it doesn’t seem to strike an entirely dramatic tone, it still feels a fair bit different than what most movie-goers expect from Farrelly.
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“’Green Book’ was a project that I kept thinking about after I had read it,” Ali told EW. “If you look at these two archetypes [in films], it’s so often the black guy is serving as some sort of grounding force and reality check who’s coming from a low-income or working class environment, for the wealthier, more affluent character… I really responded to the fact that it was flipped on its head the way that it was, and the fact that it was based on a real relationship.”