Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chicken Soup for the Orphan/Musical Protégé's Soul

Title: August Rush
Year: 2007
Starring: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Robin Williams.

Ah, it is that time of year. The time where movies come out that are meant to warm our souls and our seats. It's the time where the ultimate drug is sentimental value and movies that lift your soul. And boy, does Hollywood have one of those movies for you.

With the season of films getting you pumped and ready for Christmas and Thanksgiving, Hollywood produces a whole bakers dozen of goods. Seeing as we are currently in November, it's the season for Christmas Movies and movies that will leave a sweet impression on your heartstrings. However, my personal beliefs are that if a movie that is just cinematic cheese that jerks tears and has no subtlety isn't my kind of family film. If a film just shows the cheery, utterly predictable meanderings of 2-dimensional characters, they why waste money on it? However, August Rush isn't fully what I mentioned, I saw it for free, so I can't complain about wasting money. I can say that seeing August Rush wasn't my first or second choice of movie to see at an advanced screening, (Margot at the Wedding was my first) but entering the theater, I said to myself "It's just a harmless movie, nothing more or less." And to be honest, I was right. But the only problem is that while it met my expectations, my expectations were that I could predict the movie's beginning, middle and end, which ended up happening. August Rush is the kind of movie that will do very well at the box office, not because it has a story, but because it will make you and your whole family feel good. Call me a Grinch, but I certainly didn't feel too dandy after I left the theater.

The whole premise of August Rush is basically Oliver Twist, a boy is stuck in an all boys orphanage, convinced his parents will come back for him. He escapes and meets an eccentric man with children who do his biddings and pick pockets. However, unlike Twist, our Oliver(or Evan as he is named in the movie) is gifted, for he is a musical protégé, he can master the sounds of music and their feelings and he is convinced music will bring his parents together. The film somehow conveys the idea that a one night stand with a rocker and a violinist is supposed to be an act of fate, not libido.

The positive side of our film's protagonist is that while he may be 15, Freddie Highmore still can captivate the viewer's eye, even if given sugary fluff as his material. And he isn't the only one who shows a good performance Robin Williams is good as the Wizard, our story's Fagan. The kids are also very talented, which helped keep my attention. And it was nice to watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers can go from playing an outright disturbing character with marital troubles(See him in the fantastic Match Point) to the lead singer of an Irish rock band. My only snipe is that Keri Russell(Who I love love loved in Waitress) does little to nothing for the story, she's wooden and dull, something Miss. Russell is not. But it is a shame to watch her not play up to her potential. Other then some good performances, the score is beautiful. There actually were moments where I said to myself, "This may actually be better then I expected" But frankly, that's really all I'll praise in August Rush. Which, considering other family films that almost lead to me clawing my eyes out, is good, I guess.

However, though it may have some shine to it, Rush is just too predictable. There were moments where I could accurately predict what would happen next to our characters, and where the story would end. This may be August Rush's biggest flaw, the realm of predictability.
For starters, there is no real conflict involved in this movie. Everything seems to be practically perfect for everyone involved. The cutesy clichéd story line overshadows anything that could have made August Rush a worthwhile movie. And personally, if I can predict the ending before watching the movie, it isn't always a bad movie. I knew that at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany's would end with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard kissing while Moon River played, and yet I loved it. This was just, not that compelling, but then again, that's not what it's trying to be. It's a movie for sentimentalists, not for those who demand a feasible plot.

So, while I didn't love August Rush, while I found it sappy and not very good, I can't say I hated it. It's not a harmful movie, it won't murder me in my sleep. But it won't do anything for me. But then again, does it really need to?

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