To pick up some side money, a raffish Copacabana bouncer agrees to chauffeur and an African-American jazz musician on a concert tour through the deep South. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali’s deeply engaging performances are the best Christmas present moviegoers will open this year. It’s when the two finally find themselves on even footing that the picture goes beyond a standard lecture on the evils of racism. Directed by one half of the Farrelly Brothers, Green Book isn’t content to simply smell like a Driving Miss Daisy. Surprisingly, the messages are not imparted with a wagging finger, but smuggled in as a shared experience. Is it a feel-good charmer poised to rake in greenbacks and Oscar gold? You bet! But don’t let that keep you away from this overall well balanced (and timed) look forward from the safe distance of America’s motley past. (2018) — Scott Marks
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