Driving Miss Daisy
More Trivia from Driving Miss Daisy
This a funny movie. Not slapsticky, Jim Carrey-funny, but funny in a subtle way. It's especially funny to those of us who have known, or even lived with a "loved one" as bitter, stubborn, and sometimes nasty, as Daisy Werthan.
Before 1989, Jessica Tandy was known to younger moviegoers only as one of the spry seniors in 1985's Cocoon. Older viewers knew her as a great Broadway actress who lost her biggest stage role to Vivien Leigh when A Streetcar Named Desire was made into a movie in 1951. All that changed when this film charmed the critics and became a surprise box office hit, despite speculation that it would not appeal to teenagers and young adults. It grossed over $100 million, and made Tandy a bigger movie star than she ever had been when she was young.
Based on the Pulitzer prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy is the story of retired Jewish teacher whose son, hires an African American driver, Hoke (Morgan Freeman), to take her on errands after her own driving skills get her into another fender-bender. She, of course, resents his presence in her home, while he has to endure her subtly racist remarks and her steadfast refusal to use his services. She cannot fire him, however, so they're stuck with each other.
In the film's signature scene, he finally persuades her to get in the car, and so begins a strange relationship between these two, over the course of several decades. We get to listen in on their conversations about the civil rights movement, their lives, and families. Hoke handles her acid-tongued barbs with a great deal of patience and humility, and as she warms up to him, their conversations become more poignant and personal. Daisy learns to appreciate Hoke not just as a driver, but a friend and confidant in an era where things are changing all around her.
This film was released the same year as Spike Lee's "Joint", Do the Right Thing. Because that movie was so effective in portraying explosively tense race relations, Driving Miss Daisy was critized for making light of racial issues.
Some critics, and even Lee himself, found the film's tone condescending, especially because of Freeman's ingratiating performance.
Audiences, however, understood that this film, unlike Lee's, was a COMEDY. And they knew that Hoke was fully aware that he deserved better than to be in a such a subservient postion at the time. This movie made them smile, and that was a good thing...
It is truly a pleasure to watch Tandy's character soften and warm up to Freeman.
Her put-down's of her son Boolie's fiancee (Patti LuPone) hit just the right level of meanness.
The pace of the film is a little slow, and needless to say there's not a lot of action, but in films like this, the character development makes up for that.
The best word to describe Driving Miss Daisy is "pleasant."
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