Movie Review: August Rush

Saturday night entertainment: seeing August Rush with Kevin, Mimi, Danica, and Cha. Synopsis: orphan who happens to be a musical prodigy who goes looking for his parents, who by the way were separated after “one magical night” and have been haunted by each other ever since and don’t know the kid exists.

Yeah, it is kinda predictable. But even so…

The movie begins a bit choppily, with quick cuts between the present (the kid’s in an orphanage) and the past, when his mother and father met for one night. When that backstory is complete, the movie changes into an ongoing story in the present as the kid runs away and the parents start remembering that bit of their life again. The mom, by the way, is a famous cellist (possibly the one that dissed Pachelbel real bad?), while the dad does/did guitar and vocals in a band with his brother.

What’s sad is the total predictability and unrealism of the plot. In most parts it’s about as bad as the worse parts of my NaNoWriMo story. The parents haven’t talked to each other for more than five minutes before they kiss (although the night is romantic in the extreme) and culminate in…well, let’s just say the rest of the band surprises them in the morning, still on the roof where they met. The thought that came to my mind is that they were speeding through the people’s lives, as if it was somehow compressed. But that wasn’t quite it. It was just…bad.

The plot was compiled from a mixture of orphan stories (including a good bit of modern-day Oliver Twist, although there is an interesting twist to the Fagan character) and long-lost lovers. The odd thing is that while the dad is looking for the mom, the mom is looking for the kid and pretty much doesn’t care about the dad at all.

One positive character I do have to mention: Arthur, the guy who takes a bit of pity on the kid when he first arrives in New York City, and is displaced by him. He’s the most believable and faceted character in the movie, for most of the movie, followed probably by the dad and the adoptions agent.

Coincidence and unlikely chance reigns supreme in this movie. And the dialogue was pretty bad.

BUT for the flip side. The music was actually interesting. I say interesting, because it really was nontypical, which was part of the point. Except for the recurring theme of Van Morrison’s “Moondance”, most of the music was original for the movie, and featured what I consider one of the most interesting devices in music: mixing “classical” and “modern” instruments…and going beyond that, using the wind and the sounds of the city as instruments as well.

An early scene showed the mom playing her cello, and hearing—somehow—the music of the dad playing. And it becomes a duet of sorts. (You have to let the context of being in totally separate buildings slip away, here.) Later, the kid learns to play guitar by hooking it up to an amp and slapping the strings. Apparently it’s possible…but it’s pretty crazy. And it sounds good and new. More percussive than ordinary guitar. But perhaps that’s what you go on when you’re the only person playing.

Almost every bit of music in the movie was interesting in some way or another, all the way up to and including the last scene.

So, final verdict: If you’re going to see a good movie, this probably isn’t what you want. The plot is not original or believable in the slightest. (Side note: my friends did seem to like it more than me; feel free to offer contrasting opinions as comments or by writing your own posts.) On the other hand, if you want to go hear some interesting music, and maybe imagine for a minute that it’s coming from this child prodigy, or if you can imagine the story being better than it actually is…

Somehow I did come away with it with a positive feeling, so if you love music, maybe you can too.

On another note, the movie talks a lot about hearing the music, out there. Unfortunately, I can’t say I have that ability, and the movie makes me wish I did. What I do have is something else, though. Most people get a song stuck in their head every now and then. For me, it’s a question of how much a song is stuck. I’ve always got music playing in my head, always, as long as there’s nothing linguistic going on. (Conversation, etc. Lecture is a borderline case.) As best I can remember this has been true since before I even started singing, although it’s certainly happened more and more until it’s pretty much constant these days.

Years ago I would have never thought I’d be such a music person. Heck, I still hesitate to say that I’m a musician, because I still don’t feel like one. But today I live and breathe music as much as programming, and it’s just as much an integral part of me. I may not be a musical prodigy like the kid, but I hope that won’t stop me from keeping on beatboxing, arranging, badly playing piano, maybe even composing someday? And of course, singing, bass and tenor and in choir and everywhere.