Late last night, I decided to peruse Netflix to see if there were any promising documentaries or movies about learning disabilities. There were a couple of documentaries on dyslexia pending, which I’d requested, but I noticed a movie I hadn’t heard of before. It’s called “The Mighty”, and the two main characters were both disabled in different ways.
To be honest, Max is the one who caught my attention, because he had some sort of learning disability which involved reading. The character started out as very downtrodden and depressed, due to bullying, constant failure and a very rough past. He saw himself as stupid, because he was in the 8th grade and could not read.
Kevin, the boy who moved in next door to Max, had a very noticeable physical disability, which was actually a form of dwarfism called Morquio Syndrome. This character was extremely smart and highly imaginative.
They were both from unique family situations, too. Kevin’s dad left them as soon as he found out about his son’s birth defect, while Max lived with his grandparents. Max’s mother was murdered in front of him by his father, who was sent to prison because of it.
The movie follows the boys as they forge a close friendship and grow as people. Kevin teaches Max how to read and prompts him to find the inner strength he had all along, while Max offers Kevin a way to see and experience things that he wouldn’t have been able to because of his physical disabilities.
Besides being a huge tear jerker, I thought the movie did a pretty good job of illustrating how similar the suffering is of those with visible disabilities and invisible disabilities. It also highlights the vital role that family and friends play in a child’s life.
Although there were some unrealistic parts, I thought it was a good movie. It has some extremely sad parts, especially near the end, but it also teaches some wonderful lessons about the experience of being ‘abnormal’.
The movie was based off the book, Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick, which I’ve added to my list at the library. There’s also a sequel, Max the Mighty, which I think I’ll request at the same time.