August Rush (2007)
Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams
“Music is the only thing that makes sense anymore… play it loud enough and it keeps the demons at bay.” — Martin Luther, Across the Universe
“I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven. Can you hear it? It’s like when you put your head to the grass and you can hear the growin’ and you can hear the insects. Do you like Beethoven?” — Gary Oldman, Leon
I remember the first time I was obsessed with music. Back in 2000, the one artist that I always wanted to be like was Eminem. Back then, I thought he was an amazing musician. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about in his songs, but it didn’t matter. His rap songs had some funky beats and made my head bounce the entire time I was listening to it. “The Real Slim Shady” was played so many times in my cassette player that I still know the lyrics right now. I know how I talk about how rap sucks nowadays, but if there was one man who is one of the best rappers out there, it’s Eminem.
Years went by, and he released a few more CDs. He partnered with D12 and produced and sang in many songs with them. I grew older, and began listening to rock bands. I was completely over Eminem, but I still wasn’t over with music. To this day, I still consider Eminem the finest rapper in the last fifteen years. Many have tried, but not a single one of them have risen to the glory that Eminem rose to.
But after I finished with those rock bands, I moved onto different music. Dr. Royce Clemens got me interested in Modest Mouse, my love for movies introduced me to Dropkick Murphys (The Departed) and Remy Zero (The Invisible), and I was interested in The Beatles after I saw the trailer for Across the Universe. But little did anyone notice back when I was growing up that ever since I can remember, I was studying the sounds that people made, through speech, through everyday noise, through music.
As I got older and grew up, I learned to respect those sounds that they made, because the one gift that I received in life was to analyze everything that was going on. There would be times at basketball games where I would just bounce a ball, just to hear the noise of the ball bouncing and not actually caring for the noise it made itself. There was a time that I would run the water in my sink, just to listen to the noise it made. I would bang pipes together just to hear them make a banging sound. I was in love with the sounds around me. The sounds around me were in love with me. And to believe that I’m analyzing films like this is beyond me.
The first thing I said about August Rush when the trailer appeared in front of The Simpson’s Movie was not a ‘what the hell?’; it was simply a ‘what the fuck?’ Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Robin Williams, and Terrence Howard were raping my childhood in the wrong way. Everything that I lived with was once something, and now, is nothing. The trailer left a bad taste in my mouth for weeks, and even months. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I decided to put it on my “The Rest of 007: The Good, The Bad, and the Really Fucking Ugly” series.
But then early reviews came in. Some people said it was one of the best of the year and some people said that it ate puppy-shit. The majority of the reviews were good, so I decided to man up, slap myself in the face, told myself to quit being such a baby, and take a stand. If there was pain to be involved, then so be it. It couldn’t be any worse than The Tripper, so I think I can stand a few boo-boos on my knees.
I was going to watch August Rush, and somebody was going to like it.
There were even slim chances that I was even going to like it. Freddie Highmore annoys the nut-hairs on me and Robin Williams alone shaves them off with a blindfold over his eyes. Terrence Howard went from DeFrancisco Actor of the Year in 2005 to being an annoying turd swimming in a fish-pool in less than a minute. The plot didn’t really interest me — it uses music in place of fate for finding his family. Plus Robin Williams was in it, and you know how HIS career has been going — like the fucking speed of my farts. Chances are that it was going to blow hard.
Truth is that very little of August Rush blew hard. A couple of the people have redeemed their careers to me and one person just crushed it, had it already not been crushed. The music is one of the most impressive music that I heard, especially those rock songs that Meyers performs. It’s like these guys farted Beethoven or Mozart out of their crouches. August Rush is already in line for the most impressive movie of 2007, if not the most surprising films of the year. Movies like August Rush only come once in a while; don’t blow your money off on the Chris Brown panty-brigade.
Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) had everything going for her. She had an excellent career in music and she was going to hit it big by playing the cello. Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a guitar player for a rock-and-roll band with an Irish accent to boot. The same exact night, they perform at two different venues in New York City, and the same exact night, they meet each other on the rooftop at a party. They fall in love, but the thing that keeps holding them back is Lyla’s father (William Sadler). He wants to get out of NYC, and Louis wants to stay next to her. Eventually, they leave the city after Lyla gets hit by a car while pregnant. Without the consent of Lyla, her father files the baby for adoption, and tells Lyla that the baby died in the crash.
Eleven years later, Evan (Freddie Highmore) is miserable in a New York boys’ home, but is a musical prodigy that listens to the wind blowing and the sounds of the world around him. He wishes he could meet his parents even more and more each day, so much so that he’s been counting the days down. He decides to run away, because he realizes that his parents aren’t going to come find him. Wondering around the streets in New York, he meets Arthur (Leon G. Thomas III), who plays music for Wizard (Robin Williams). After Evan just messes around with a guitar, he’s considered an artist by Wizard, who gets him pumping. He grows accustomed to the name August Rush, and hoping that his new fame will help him find his parents one day in the soon future.
August Rush works just because the material is just right. The movie without music is like a vanilla ice cream cup without sprinkles, hot fudge, nuts, and a cherry… it would be just plain and boring. The music is just perfectly created by Mark Mancina, who composed for Training Day, Twister, and Speed. It makes you shake and be amazed, and it’s one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever heard.
The performances are pretty good, too. Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers play it fantastically. Usually in films, the romantic stuff is pretty much annoying and useless (like Guy X). But August Rush is an exception. Not only is it important for the plot, but when the romantic scenes are going on, they are worth something to the viewer. Those scenes are better than the entire movies of The Notebook and A Walk to Remember put together. Terrence Howard does a decent job as well, but the movie could have easily been done without his character. It doesn’t add onto much and doesn’t really have to do with the plot, but if this performance was there during The Brave One, that movie would have been better as well.
I promised one of my long time readers that if this little kid made me smile during the film, then I was going to congratulate him. As much as it kills me to do it, I must.
Freddie Highmore is in the same group as Dakota Fanning and Cameron Bright as the child actors who act like they are trying to win an Oscar. They act too much like adults and not at all like children. The one movie that I actually liked him in, Finding Neverland, was him acting so much like an adult that by the end of the movie I was almost convinced that he had a growth-hormone condition. Then I checked IMDB and there was nothing there that mentioned it, so I guess that’s a good thing.
But surprisingly, Highmore acts more like a child in this film than an adult, where I pretty much expected it the other way around, especially because of the topic that film covers. The kid has the charm. He’ll put a smile to your face, a tear to your eye, and a sore ass that you will thank him for later.
I would have given it four stars, but you know me. I’m always one to find something that is keeping the film from giving it four stars. This time it’s no one other than Robin Williams. It’s not that he plays it like Bono (hint, hint, he plays it like Bono). His character is only there to bring in money. Williams is boring, and looks like he crawled onto the wrong set for a film about child pedophiles. His films in the past decade have been sucking ass… or maybe it has been him that has been sucking ass. I think it’s been the second one.
August Rush is worth a look whenever you get a chance. It’s a good film that’s worth any hard-earned money of yours. Go in with little expectations, come out with a whole load. It’s predictable, but honestly, who thought it wouldn’t be?
***½ out of ****