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Movie Review

Ever since Oscar Madison and Felix Unger first clashed over whether feet should be allowed on the coffee table, Hollywood has introduced hundreds of odd couples. Unlikely partnerships. Mixed marriages. This popular plot device serves several purposes. In addition to fueling a story with immediate conflict, it proceeds to promote human understanding as audiences watch two characters as different as night and day develop a friendship somewhere in the twilight. But very few films achieve this with the warmth, depth and humanity of Driving Miss Daisy.

When Daisy Werthan, an aging Southern matron, nearly wrecks her brand-new 1948 Packard backing it out of the driveway, her wealthy son hires Hoke, a kind black man, to serve as her chauffeur. Sparks fly. The proud, paranoid and frequently crotchety Miss Daisy refuses to hand over her independence, and tries Hoke's considerable patience. As difficult as she is, he is equally stubborn in his commitment to serve with a sunny disposition. Slowly, trust develops. Then respect. Then friendship. This tranquil movie proceeds to chronicle 25 years in Daisy and Hoke's relationship with the aid of brilliant performances by Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.

Honored with four Oscars, including Best Picture of 1989, Driving Miss Daisy addresses serious issues such as aging, racial prejudice, religious faith and class structure. But it avoids heavy-handed social commentary in favor of casual insight. Instead of preaching to viewers, the filmmakers allow the audience to eavesdrop as these challenges subtly impact individual lives over a quarter-century. Aside from a handful of mild profanities and one improper use of God's name, the movie includes no objectionable elements.

In today's cynical, youth-obsessed culture, teens can learn a lot while being entertained by Driving Miss Daisy. They may even walk away with a deeper appreciation for the frustrating symptoms of aging impacting their elders. A terrific motion picture ripe for family discussion.


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