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Awesome: 12.9%
Worth A Look35.48%
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3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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August Rush
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Music Makes The People Come Together"
4 stars

“August Rush” is a film that contains winsome orphans, star-crossed lovers, deathbed confessions, noble social workers, discussions of the restorative powers of music, Robin Williams as a weird Fagin-like outsider who commandeers a virtual army of the aforementioned winsome orphans and the kind of finale that depends entirely on all the right people turning up at the exact same location at the exact same time. In other words, I am guessing that a good number of you have already decided that the resulting film couldn’t possibly be anything than an especially indigestible bit of tripe and probably checked out one you hit the words “Robin Williams” in the above description. I must confess that I felt the same way going in to see it, especially after having seen the ick-inducing trailer, but I must also confess my absolute astonishment and delight to discover that it is much better than the treacly nightmare suggested by the ads.

Freddie Highmore stars as Evan, the 11-year-old orphaned product of a struggling Irish rocker (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and an up-and-coming cellist (Keri Russell) who spent one night of bliss together before being cruelly separated by her domineering and career-oriented father (William Sadler). We soon discover that Evan has a preternatural gift for hearing and playing music (in an opening sequence, he appears to be “conducting” a field of tall grass) and an unshakable belief that his parents are still out there looking for him. One day, he flees from the orphanage and heads for New York City in search of his parents and his musical talents cause him to be first taken under the wing of Wizard (Robin Williams), a homeless man who heads up a group of musically inclined panhandling kids, and later find him in enrolled in Julliard, where he is asked to compose a rhapsody to be used for an upcoming fundraising concert. At the same time, Mom and Dad, who never even knew he existed (thanks to the meddlings of her father and a convenient auto accident) and who both have long since abandoned their performing careers (he is now a businessman in San Francisco and she occasionally teaches music in Chicago), find themselves mysteriously inspired to get back into performing and find themselves in the Big Apple at the same time. Whether they are reunited in a tear-jerking climax or not is something I will leave for you to discover but if you think for even a second that there is a chance that the three won’t cross paths at the end, this may not be your kind of movie after all.

As I said before, I realize that “August Rush” sounds like an exceptionally smarmy example of feel-good nonsense but it really is a lot better than that. Director Kirsten Sheridan (daughter of Jim) does an excellent job of telling her story in a smart and straightforward manner that keeps the syrup to a minimum. Of course, most of the twists and turns of the plot are somewhat implausible (especially the stuff involving the army of music-making panhandlers, which plays like a bizarre mash-up of “Oliver Twist” and “School of Rock”) but if you are willing to concede that the film is essentially a fairy tale in modern garb, which appears to be Sheridan’s intent all along, even the most outrageous coincidences play a little better in hindsight. The stuff involving the Robin Williams character doesn’t really work, especially his surprise reappearance in the final act, but it also doesn’t do that much damage to the film as a whole. Besides, there are so many other strong elements–the performances from Highmore, Russell and Rhys Meyers, the beautiful cinematography from regular Ridley Scott collaborator John Mathieson and, of course, the music–that I found myself willing to forgive its occasional missteps.

“August Rush” is coming out at a time when movie theaters are jam-packed with such heavily hyped family-oriented entertainments as “Bee Movie,” “Fred Claus” and “Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” and there is a real danger that audiences may forsake it for those other pre-sold epics. While “August Rush” may not have the marketing muscle of those other films, it does have one element that they otherwise lack–a genuine sense of charm. If you are looking to take the kids to the end result of an intricate marketing campaign, then go see one of those other gumdrops by all means. If, on the other hand, you want to take them to a film that tells a delightful and easy-to-grasp story that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a 30-second commercial , then be sure to take them to see “August Rush”–my guess is that younger viewers will eat it up while parents and guardians may be surprised to find it working on them as well.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16652&reviewer=389
originally posted: 11/21/07 00:17:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/18/17 Charles Tatum Starts badly, but definitely stick with it. 4 stars
3/16/10 Joey Wonderful flick. 5 stars
8/23/09 The Great Lee Card Beautiful music, tears came for sure and I'm a dude 5 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. i didn't know jonathan rhys meyers could sing before i watched this. 4 stars
7/20/08 g. a steaming pile of shite 1 stars
3/13/08 ap1werks unbelieveable yet good, watchin between major movie releases. 4 stars
3/13/08 Char Loved it! Excellent for what it is...a feel good, emotional, musical, fairytale! 5 stars
1/21/08 Pete really enjoyed the movie even if unbelieveable 4 stars
1/18/08 Strummer Aspartame Crap 1 stars
1/01/08 Deborah Finally - a fitting review for August Rush! 5 stars
11/27/07 Luisa very emotional; great music performances; loved it! 4 stars
11/26/07 Diana There is nothing that can redeem this film! 1 stars
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  21-Nov-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 11-Mar-2008



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