Kevin is a 13-year-old boy who suffers Mucopolysaccharidosis IV, or Morquio syndrome. 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 is an over-sized, yet, good-natured teenage boy suffering from dyslexia who lives with his grandparents. He has flunked the seventh grade twice and is tormented by Tony "Blade" Fowler, 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, 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. Kevin and Max return the purse to Loretta and find out that she is married to Iggy Lee, 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.
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 curry 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 bird) that belonged to Kevin and he winds it up, making it fly. Max narrates the final sentence, "And by the time we get here, which I guess should be the end, you're gonna know the story of Freak the Mighty, who slayed dragons, saved maidens, and walked high above the world.
- Elden Henson as Maxwell "Max" Kane, The Mighty
- Kieran Culkin as Kevin Dillon, Freak
- Sharon Stone as Gwen Dillon
- Gena Rowlands as Susan "Gram" Pinneman
- Harry Dean Stanton as Elton "Grim" Pinneman
- James Gandolfini as Kenny "Killer" Kane
- Gillian Anderson as Loretta Lee
- Meat Loaf as Iggy Lee
- Jenifer Lewis as Mrs. Addison
- Joseph Perrino as Tony Fowler (Blade)
Similarities to the NovelEdit
- The book is very similar to this movie adaptation. The title was originally to be "Freak the Mighty", but it was changed to "The Mighty" because "Freak the Mighty" sounded too harsh to the studio.
Differences from the NovelEdit
- Perhaps the most major difference is how in the book, Max runs into the hospital and breaks into the room where Freak told him he would get a new body, only to find it empty and be told the truth by a doctor. In the film, it's more devastating because Max discovers the building to be an industrial hospital laundromat and realizes the truth himself: that Kevin lied.
- The other biggest difference is that in the book, Freak is Kevin Avery, in the movie, he is Kevin Dillon.
- The book is set in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The film is set in South Cincinnati, Ohio.
- When the kids are shouting "Killer Kane, Killer Kane, had a son whose got no brain," in the book it's written "Killer Kane, Killer Kane, had a kid whose got no brain."
- In the book, Kevin had a seizure while hospitalized before he died, but in the movie he died in his sleep.
- In the book, Kevin and Gwen knew Max's mother, Annie, but moved to a different part of town after Kenny killed her. Max and Kevin also knew each other from daycare and met after they moved by each other and Max got Kevin's ornithopter out of a tree for him. In the movie, it's more realistic. Kevin and Gwen are from a special hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and never met Max until the 8th grade. Also in the film, the two don't become friends right away. Max gets blamed for throwing a basketball at Freak and Max doesn't get the ornithopter out of the tree until after Freak dies.
- In the book, Kenny Kane took his son to a burned-down house where Max tripped and got a nosebleed, prompting his father to call him a "dumb animal". In the film, Kenny takes Max to the Testaments in a vacant apartment, and pretends to be innocent of murder, never insulting his son until he realizes that Max never told him that they went to the Testaments before.
- In the book, Freak and Max have kind of a love-hate relationship, while in the movie they are very, very close with the occasional dispute.
- In the book, Freak is blonde. In the film, Freak is a brunette. Gwen is a long-haired brunette in the book and a short-haired blonde in the film.
- In the movie, Kevin tutors Max.
- The film added the scene where Blade attempts to get Max into his gang on the bus.
- The film adds some more positive and uplifting scenes, like how Freak and Max win basketball games in gym class and go on more quests with a more positive feel. The movie also has more knight references.
- In the book, Kevin is not as sensitive about his father. In the movie, it's more realistic, where Max is tortured by his father's memory and he is the cause of most of Max's problems.
- In the book, Blade apologizes for Freak's death. In the film, this does not happen.
- In the book, Blade throws rocks at Kevin and Freak while they flee in the pond. In the movie, Blade goes in after them with his switchblade between his teeth.
- In the book, Loretta Lee is an alcoholic and a smoker. In the film she is only an alcoholic.
- In the book, Iggy Lee has a rust-red colored beard. In the film, he doesn't.
- In the book, Kevin rescues Max by calling the cops and telling them to look for Iggy Lee, because Kenny is probably with him. In the movie, Kevin takes it upon himself to walk to Iggy's house to rescue Max, telling a kid nearby to call the police.
- After Kevin dies, Gwen moves to California and starts a relationship with a man named Rick.
- Overall, the film has a more kind tone than the book, yet the film still maintains the same realism that gave the book an edge.
Although The Mighty had a very small budget and was seen by few (only grossing $2 million at the box office) the reviews it did receive were highly positive, and The Mighty received critical acclaim. The film currently holds a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and a 78% from audiences. The general critics' consensus simply states: "Heavy-handed and overwrought." The Mighty also has a 7.3 out of 10 rating on the IMDb based on about 10,000 votes. Although the film is still relatively little-known, The Mighty has achieved something of a cult status with many fans that adore the film.
The Mighty was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress (Sharon Stone) and Best Original Song ("The Mighty" by Sting).