A poignant, beautiful adaptation of Steinbeck.
Miles D. Moore | Alexandria, VA USA | 01/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gary Sinise's "Of Mice and Men" was virtually ignored by critics and public when it was first released, and I have never known why. It strikes me as one of the truly great cinematic adaptations of a literary classic. The screenplay is remarkably faithful to both the letter and spirit of Steinbeck; the photography by Kenneth MacMillan is heartbreakingly beautiful; and the performances by Sinise, John Malkovich and Ray Walston are almost unbearably poignant. My sister, a high-school English teacher, shows this film to all of her classes, and all of them have loved it. This is the rare movie that really imparts the flavor and significance of the novel on which it is based."
Actors Born for These Roles!!
ROGER L. FOREMAN | Bath, Maine | 01/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot think of a movie adaptation of a "classic" novel in which the actors were more suited for their roles than OF MICE AND MEN (THE CRUCIBLE is close. . .). No offense to Burgess Meredith (from the 1939 version), but John Malkovich was born to play this role (Lennie)! His physical mannerisms (walking, sitting, working in the fields, etc.), his vocal stylings, and his slightly cross-eyed status all contribute to the overwhelming "Lennie-ness" he conveys. His smile is the one I see when I think of George telling the "tend the rabbits" story; his voice is what I hear when I read the book now. Malkovich IS Lennie (or vice versa. . .). Gary Sinise is perfect as the quiet and understated George--he never tries to steal the show but lets the script and the plot situations stay in top priority position. The supporting actors are all extremely good, from Curly, his wife, Candy, Crooks, Slim, and the farm hands--no weak links in the chain whatsoever, which is rare. Exceptional performances all the way around, with great leadership from the two primary actors.
The script is as good as you can possibly get from an adaptation. It is not "word-for-word," but it is close enough for me as a high school English teacher. The differences, both additions and omissions, are not significant enough to draw any criticism for me, and they provide for interesting analysis (compare/contrast) for my students.
Despite the exceptional quality of this movie, the kids still like it!! Some very good movies are just too "good" for high school students to appreciate (THE GREAT GATSBY comes to mind), but this one hits them hard. They identify very easily with George and Lennie's plight (with some help from a history lesson in Depression era economics), Lennie (Malkovich) is an incredibly likable guy, despite his obvious weaknesses and social/mental deficiencies; George scores major points from the kids for his incredibly kind treatment (for the most part) of Lennie. The students are drawn to the very compelling social situation into which Lennie's actions force the two workers. The climax of the movie is shattering. Even though they know what is coming, the visual realization is difficult to watch without emotional reaction. I believe Steinbeck would have given Sinise "two thumbs up" for the last ten minutes of the movie, in particular.
Bottom Line: You're not going to find a much more compelling story, either in print or in a movie. The themes may seem slightly outdated when looked at in the microcosm of the Depression Era, but Steinbeck presented a big picture with these two characters and their plight that even today's kids can appreciate. Worth a rental for sure. Worth a purchase for me. Worth a purchase for every high school in the country!"
Steinbeck's Classic Done Right...Almost
Bill Fleck | Wurtsboro, NY USA | 01/29/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There's much to be said for Gary Sinise's adaptation of Steinbeck's 1937 classic, OF MICE AND MEN. In many ways, it's a better film than the 1939 United Artist's version (currently available on DVD).Part of the reason for this is the frankness; Steinbeck's language has finally been loosed from the Breen Office. Too, the mature themes inherent in the novel are allowed full play on the screen--the sexual tensions between Steinbeck's bindle-stiffs and Curley's wife are palpable without being pornographic.And let it be said right here that Gary Sinise can act rings around Burgess Meredith in the central role of George. It is unlikely anyone will ever nail the part so perfectly again. These elements alone make the film worth seeing.For Steinbeck purists, however, some things are lacking...particularly in the area of characterization. For all his effort, Malkovich isn't quite convincing as the giant Lennie, lapsing into unfortunate Dracula-like hand-flutters in crucial scenes. He also tends to underplay and swallow important lines as if thinking, "Hell, everyone's read this book in high school, so let's get on with it."Supporting characters suffer in some cases as well. While Ray Walston is quite good as Candy, changes in some of Steinbeck's other characters are ill-conceived. Curley's wife--in her late teens in the novel, and quite harsh--is played as a sympathetic twenty-something by the beautiful but too-polished Sherilynn Fenn. The aged, handicapped African-American Crooks is conversely played by an actor much too young, and a crucial scene between the two in the book (where she threatens to frame him for rape) is completely absent here. The idea seems to be to drum up sympathy for Fenn's character before her tragic death; this may be politically correct, but it's poor Steinbeck...and senseless manipulation in a film that otherwise catches Steinbeck's point of view so well.Sad to say, some crucial scenes are misdirected. The central fight between Lennie and Curley, perfectly realized in the '39 version, is slow and drawn out here; and is there really any need for the final slow-motion buddy shot of Lennie and George walking in the field at the end? These are startling stylistic lapses in an otherwise tightly-controlled artistic grip. And yet, in spite of these major flaws, the film has power. The sets, the cimematography, and (outside of the fight scene), the editing are perfectly done, as is the understated musical score. In short, Sinise has given us a very worthy version of the Steinbeck tale; a version that's the best one available in many ways."
A great modern interpretation...
Chris Behnsen | Canada | 12/16/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is definately worth the five stars, even with certain flaws. I agree with the idea that the fight scene could use a little work, as it didn't capture the emotion of the fight as the book did. It was too... quiet? Something to that effect. The rest of the movie is wonderful, as it is sad. But the humanitarian aspect at the end is very well thought-out, and really captures the essence of the meaning of Lennie's death.Truly an inspiration, and a good example of Sinese's directing and acting talent. Of course Malkovich has done quite well in this film. Really an all-star cast, and all-star character portrayals."