August Rush *1/2
Directed by Kirsten Sheridan
Written by Nick Castle and James V. Hart
Freddie Highmore as August Rush/Evan
Keri Russell as Lyla Novacek
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Louis Connelly
Robin Williams as Wizard
Leon G. Thomas III as Arthur
Terrence Howard as Richard Jeffries
Jamia Simone Nash as Hope
William Sadler as Thomas Novacek
Mykelti Williamson as Reverend James
113 Minutes(Rated PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and language. )
Throughout all of film history there has always been what is classified as the "feel good movie." From silent films like "The Crowd," through Frank Capra's time, through some Darabont films, there are so many feel good movies-films that defy logic to give our characters a happy ending. Now when it comes to most film, my rule is that I don't mind seeing predictable films as long as they are well made. I can forgive cliche if it's handled well. Like they say-always strive for originality, but if you have to steal, steal from the best. Now "August Rush" is attempting to tug the heartstrings of everyone, but instead of making me feel good it made me roll my eyes in disgust. This movie certainly does defy logic to give the characters a happy ending, but along the way they just go one step too far in making everything all neat and tidy. There was not a single plausible moment in this movie. There was not a single character that I was able to see a second dimension too. And lastly, there is not a single event in the odyssey of these characters that was not hard to see from a mile away. This film was packed with cliche after cliche, but instead of doing it well it just went past the borderline of ridiculous. The movies heart is in the right place, and its intentions were honorable, but it ends there.
Now young Freddie Highmore is still at that adorable and cute age where we can watch him on a screen and detect talent before the drug years kick in, and he might be the only thing holding this mess together. With great performances in "Finding Neverland," and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" under his belt, Highmore plays Evan, a young boy living in an orphanage straight out of a Dickens novel (only without the magic). He is picked on for being weird, and he claims that if he continues to "follow the music," than his real parents will find him. Evan finds music in everything he comes across. We, the audience, begins to learn a little bit about how Evan came to the orphanage. It started during a chance encounter between cello player Lyla Novacek and rock singer Louis Connelly, whose one night together led her to having a baby. After getting hit by a car, her evil father who wants her to continue her music career lies about the baby dying, but he really just gave it away. When Lyla finds out that her son is alive out there, she heads to New York to find him. When Evan ends up escaping from the orphanage he finds himself in New York determined to find his parents. And lastly when Louis, who is in a loveless relationship because he can't get Lyla out of his head after eleven years, decides to find her, he ends up in New York. Evan ends up being taken under the wing of the Wizard (played by miscasted Robin Williams), a former country singer wannabe who has a bunch of homeless kids playing for him on various corners all over Manhattan. He dubs him August Rush after finding that he has a certain knack for playing guitar (in a Kaki King type manner, mind you, who in fact had a big part in the musical production of this film.) But Wizard just wants the money that Evan can bring him, and stands in way of his dream of finding his parents, and even being able to showcase more of his musical talent.
Now the good things here, and there are very few, are pretty much Highmore, Keri Russell as Lyla, and about sixty percent of the music. Highmore manages to play the character convincingly, even though there is not a shred of actual humanity in this screenplay. Russell, who impresses me more and more in every film shes in, and actually deserves some kind of nomination for "Waitress", is not only very easy on the eye, but she is also quite convincing. And the music, like I said most of in a Kaki King sort of way, if you even know who that is, is just enjoyable-at least when its not a rock song sung by Jonathan Rhys Meyers (whose accent actually changes in the movie by the minute). The rest is all a fantasy-a fairy tale created to simply stir audiences hearts when really they would have to be insane and completely dumb to even find any of this moving. Its far too obvious-call me a cynic but even when I suspend belief on certain things I like to at least feel treated like something other than a child. This is just a missed opportunity for something that could have been delightful for the season-a little Capra-esque type of feel good movie that we all need once in a while. But don't condescended me screenwriters, and don't make me feel stupid. At leats inject some kind of human quality in one of characters here. Highmore should be pleased because when a fifteen year old boy manages to be one of the only worthwhile things in an entire production of film makers, that shows that he actually has some talent. These writers do not.