Apr 09, 2021dgiard rated this title 3.5 out of 5 stars
"Alright! Alright! Alright!"
Matthew McConaughey sees the world in terms of Red Lights (things that stop us), Yellow Light (things that slow us down), and Greenlights (things that allow us to move forward) and explains how he has been able to convert Red and Yellow lights into Greenlights. "Greenlights" is, of course, the title of McConaughey's 2020 autobiography.
The book is a series of anecdotes, mostly about overcoming adversity and turning negatives into positives. He grew up in a dysfunctional family with an overbearing, sometimes violent, redneck father, but he learned some valuable lessons about self-reliance from that father.
While a high school exchange student, he was assigned to live with a crazy Australian family who tried to control all his actions, but he asserted himself and was able to maintain his independence and move to a more normal home.
He was a film student struggling to find his first break when he won his first movie role, playing Wooderson in Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" - a small part, but a memorable character in a movie that would later become a cult favourite.
When confused about his next step, he took a sabbatical to travel along the Amazon River or through central Africa or across America - in each case returning with greater clarity.
After establishing himself as a bankable leading man in romantic comedy films, he decided he needed new challenges and refused to accept any more rom-com roles. After a few months, the phone stopped ringing; but he eventually landed the lead in "The Dallas Buyers Club", which earned him his first and only Academy Award.
In each case, McConaughey was able to create a positive (or "Greenlight") through a combination of talent, positive thinking, hard work, cleverness, and perseverance. McConaughey comes across as an eternal optimist who lives life on his own terms. He was blessed with looks and talent, but he did not rely solely on that. He also comes across as a bit of an oddball, as he describes his drug use and his wet dreams.
Each chapter includes at least one poem or a philosophical statement or a "Note to Self" or a clever bumper sticker that relates to the coming or preceding story. It is a bit cheesy, but it works.
One wonders about the veracity of his stories: Did he really fight a champion wrestler to a draw in remote Mali? Was teenage McConaughey as successful at outwitting adults as he claims?
But we cannot doubt the entertainment value. McConaughey speaks with an engaging humor and his stories are fun.