Review after review, I hold out hope for a jolt of magic, something big and exciting to draw us into the story — if even in a small piece of dialogue, a gesture. Anything. Gimme some magic.

Sometimes it all comes in one big surprising envelope. So it is with this week’s opening of Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” a feel good (true story) combination buddy movie and road trip about the famous black concert pianist Don Shirley (“Moonlight’s” Oscar winner Mahershala Ali) and New York’s Copacabana bouncer and former mob enforcer, Frank Anthony (Tony “Lip”) Vallelonga. (Viggo Mortensen.)

Shirley, at this time, was a successful and beloved multi-talented (classic and jazz) musician, who spoke six languages including Russian, while Tony was still practicing English.

Shirley lived an opulent life on the second floor of the famed Carnegie Hall.

It is here that Tony auditions for a job as driver for Shirley’s eight-week tour from Pittsburgh to the dark side of the moon, i.e. eight states in the deep 1962 South. The first of many great scenes.

Shirley interviews “the Lip” while sitting in an antique throne and wearing a splendid African robe. East elegance meets West Bronx. Their educations are so diverse that they can barely speak to one another. We’re off.

Tony, with a wife and three kids, first says “Fuggidaboudit.” But with the Copacabana closed for repairs and Christmas coming, he bites his toothpick, swallows his beer and takes the gig.

This is where Hugo Green’s “Negro Motorist Green Book” comes in. The book was a trip adviser guide for “colored” travelers in the Jim Crow South.

Every great black artist, from Louis Armstrong and Nat “King” Cole to Aretha Franklin, and even famed opera star Marian Anderson, owned a copy, and had to live in the most squalid roach motels in the South as they traveled.

Shirley knows the territory, but Tony “Lip,” no progressive, mind you, had never seen racism of that intensity, even in the Bronx. Lessons will be learned by both riders.

Folded into a gorgeous 1960’s turquoise Cadillac and followed in another car by the two other members of the Shirley trio, the artist with cashmere lap blanket in the back, and the bouncer with toothpick and cigarette in mouth, dive into the dark South.

We know what’s coming and so does Shirley. Tony will be shocked. There will be rapturous greetings and respect from the 1 percent at each stop, as long as the black musician does his job, takes his cash and leaves.

According to his contract, Shirley is provided a tuned Steinway, but not allowed to dine in the same room. When he asks for the men’s room, he is politely shown the outhouse in the backyard. His dressing room is a 3- by 6-tool closet. At each stop it gets worse, scarier.

Along the way, Shirley insists on Cutty Sark scotch, decorum and manners. Tony introduces the joy of KFC. There’s a bucket of laughs before reality drops in.

Then there’s a frightening encounter with “Smoky and the Bandit” Mississippi cops on a back road that leads to an arrest.

When it appears that they may wind up on a chain gang, Shirley insists on his one per customer phone call. You will be surprised by the voice on the other end.

“Sheriff. Do you really want army troops arriving in your little town?” They are immediately freed.

Before it all ends on a snowy Christmas Eve in the Bronx, replete with meatballs and candy canes, a Central Casting familia and grappa, there is a knock on the front door. Uh huh.

I truly expected a reversed “Driving Miss Daisy” comedy from the keys of writers Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie, or a misuse of two great actors by director Peter Farrelly whose best effort was seen in the grotesque “Dumb and Dumber.”

But it’s almost Christmas, gifts are promised and we’ve just received our first one full of magic.

“Green Book” is a holiday treat of unexpected power, a happy, energetic, well-crafted and superior Oscar entry.

Mahershala Ali, who impressed everyone as the stoic but sensitive drug pusher in Barry Jenkin’s “Moonlight,” does it again.

Viggo Mortensen, who delivered an icy and deadly gunman in 2008’s “Appaloosa,” and quiet strength as Sigmund Freud in “A Dangerous Mind,” put on 40 pounds and a bouncy Bronx walk to fill up the undershirt of Tony “Lip.”

I smell the greenery of money here, and the tinsel and ornaments of Oscar. Come inhale the magic of “Green Book.”

J.P. Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and film actor.

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