Okay, so for some time now I had been wanting to see August Rush pretty badly, because I adore music, movies about music, and every once in awhile I just want a reason to get the warm fuzzies. So today, to escape the fact that my senior thesis is due in eight days and I have a 10 page paper to write (oh, and I think I'm supposed to be reading a light short story called Ulysses for my James Joyce class, too...), I decided to enjoy some alone time and take myself to the theater.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving, breezy T-shirt weather in Claremont, I took a leisurely half-hour stroll to the Laemmle in the new expansion of The Village. Walking along the plush carpet of kelly green grass that stretches across Pomona College, dry leaves crunching under my shoes, I absorbed the beautiful day around me, almost regretting my choice to go sit in a dark room for a couple of hours in the middle of the afternoon. But I also was getting in to the perfect mood to be watching a sweet story about a family that finds itself through the bonds of music.
I was kind of...really wrong. I think I'd have been better off enjoying a smoothie while sitting outside, or at least doing something productive if I was going to be indoors all afternoon. Something about this movie really rubbed me the wrong way, and it was a shame to be so disappointed by it. It is, of course, possible for a movie to be sweet and meaningful without being...boring; Keri Russel's last starring turn in Waitress proved this. Unfortunately, too much of August Rush is slow, unbelievable, or creepy to allow the sweet moments to shine through.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell certainly were the most enjoyable people to watch in this film (not just because they're both insanely beautiful people), and even their scenes were sometimes so over-the-top treacle sweet that I expected Hector Elizondo to pop up out of nowhere. I was expecting that Terence Howard and Freddie Highmore might be given more of an opportunity to shine, as well, but instead, it was as if what their best scenes might have been had been edited out. Robin Williams was just creepy, and I kind of want to rent One Hour Photo and Insomnia just to see if this is just how he is onscreen nowadays.
I feel like this movie aimed way too high in trying to convey love of music to the audience, at the expense of believability in the characters and scenarios. Case in point: the first time the title character sees sheet music - ever - he masters the piano and the organ. My eyes rolled out of my head and had to be persuaded to jump back in their sockets after that. I guess this might be a good movie for kids, but otherwise, I think it can be avoided. If you want a touching movie, I would certainly recommend Waitress, which just came out on DVD, or the incredible What Dreams May Come, in which both Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are stellar (I know, right?).