'Of Mice And Men' Review: James Franco And Chris O'Dowd Make A Strong Pair
When he’s not taking weird selfies on Instagram or parodying Kanye West music videos with Seth Rogen, James Franco can be seen acting on Broadway's Of Mice and Men. Franco fills the role of George surprisingly well in this revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. With a watertight performance and a suave personality, Franco delivers a charming, witty character that is believable and engaging. Both him and Chris O’Dowd work well together, breathing new life into the old tale of Lennie and George on Broadway.
There’s a plot to Of Mice and Men, but I always found it to be plain. It’s very linear, with few dramatic devices; it mostly hinges on a fairly obvious instance of foreshadowing that happens early on. Lennie and George are homeless men working whatever farm jobs they can find in their travels. They dream of owning a farm of their own, to grow crops and animals that will sustain them. Or perhaps it’s actually Lennie’s dream, as he needs to keep George motivated by promising him his own rabbits to take care of in this idyllic farm. It quickly grows into a passion George holds on to steadfastly, which hankers for a tragic end to the plot (the aforementioned foreshadowing). But the real meat of the story is the symbiotic relationship between Lennie and George. It’s interesting to watch these two live and travel together, like studying a clown fish and a sea anemone. Their precisely opposite qualities keep them together: Lennie is scrawny, yet gifted with wit and keeps them both out of trouble. George, mentally incapacitated from brain damage, compensates with muscle and protects Lennie.
Adding to a great cast is a great set. It’s a sight to behold thanks to set designer Todd Rosenthal, who manages to immerse us into the world of the Depression. Everything looks old and rickety: walls, doors, and windows are worn by the harsh climates of the Dust Bowl.
<iframe width="300" height="169" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XNty1ZP0T10" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Not much else can be said about Of Mice and Men. The plot is untouched, and director Anna D. Shapiro doesn’t really try anything new. Still, it’s a well-done revival, with a good cast that makes it a great introduction for newcomers to Steinbeck’s old story.