Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

There’s an interesting little phenomenon I’ve noticed with this film ‘August Rush’. I missed this little sentimental movie when it made its theatrical run so I had to it catch on the DVD rebound. If I were to base my desire to see this movie on its critical reception then I would have sidestepped this thing like the plague as this film has a low Metacritic score of 38 and completely rotten Rotten Tomato score of 36%. However the user ratings on the Metacritic and the IMDB are pretty damned high thus creating one the largest disparities between the critical thought and the user opinion I’ve seen. Well my wife had wanted to see this movie so I’ll have to judge for myself who’s correct: the always uptight and overly critical critics or the incredibly forgiving audience who’ll give something a great rating because some actor has ‘pretty eyes’?

Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is an Irish guitar player living the rockstar life minus the rockstar money in New York City with his brother and their band. Lynn Novacek (Keri Russell) is a classically trained concert cellist being mercilessly driven towards success by her strict and stern father (William Sadler). At a wild party one night both of these quiet reclusive intense musical talents, while attempting to get away from the noise of it all, meet on a rooftop, make an immediate connection and then they make a connection of another sort, you know what I’m saying? You know what I’m saying? You know what I’m saying. But these two kids aren’t the morally ambiguous types that we’re used to from you crazy kids but are really and truly meant for each other, but sadly, circumstance keeps them from being together. Love or not, unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy and nine or so months later Lynn gives birth to healthy baby boy she is looking forward to raising were she not hoodwinked into believing that the child was stillborn.

A dozen or so years later meet Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) a weird bit of child living in an orphanage and convinced in his heart of hearts that his parents are out there

somewhere looking for him. This naturally makes all the other orphans hate his guts but he really doesn’t care. A benevolent social worker with a sad past named Richard (Terrance Howard) comes around and takes a liking to the boy and becomes his friend in a way, but this still doesn’t stop Evan from leaving the orphanage and braving the deadly streets of New York to find his parents. Completely lost in the big city Evan makes the acquaintance of the streetwise young musician Arthur (Leon G. Thomas) who takes Evan to his home of urchins lorded over by the maniacal Wizard (Robin Williams). Wizard is a bit skeptical of Evan, until he learns the boy is like the modern day Amadeus and does his best to exploit this massive talent. Talent like Evan’s can’t go unnoticed too long and no greater force than the Julliard school of music takes the orphan, under his new name as given to him by Wizard of August Rush, under their wide wings to help hone his talent. Meanwhile his mother learns that somewhere out there that there is twelve year old boy who has her DNA and she’s going to find him. Meanwhile his father knows that there is a woman out there who has his heart and refuses to let it go, and he’s got to find her. With music as their beacon, will love guide them together? How sweet it that?

Okay, so just about everything that anybody has said negative about ‘August Rush’ is pretty much true. It’s syrupy, sappy, melodramatic and predictable. This I cannot deny. Personally, I found it completely enjoyable. Seriously people, if you really need to get slapped in the face with the bitter harsh reality of pain while watching a movie then I believe ‘No Country for Old Men’ is available on DVD. ‘August Rush’ on the other hand is a fairytale pure and simple. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a King looking for his Queen, Keri Russell is a Queen looking for the lost prince, Freddie Highmore is the Prince – unaware of his royalty - on a impossible quest, Terrance Howard is a Knight seeking redemption while Robin Williams is the evil ‘Wizard’ wanting the golden chalice to keep as his own. Heck, we’ll even call William Sadler the evil Fairy God Mother. As it is a fairy tale, they tend not to have too much basis in reality as far as I know. Young director Kristen Sheridan guides this modern day fairytale with a sure and steady hand, the actors she was given are requisitely good looking and play directly to their strengths as actors, Terence Howard and Robin Williams are along in supporting roles to just that, support, and they both do it swell. The only problem I really had with the movie, besides the ending, was Freddie Highmore, which was surprising since you’re going to have a hard time finding a child actor with more experience than young Mr. Highmore. He played August / Evan almost as mentally challenged more so than with wonder and he really didn’t sell me on the fact that he was any kind of musician, much less a prodigy. Truth be told young Leon G. Thomas probably would have been a better choice for the role, but being that he’s Black this would have caused a helluva ripple effect in the casting and all, but THAT little kid was good, and I don’t know if he can really play, but I did believe that he could play regardless. The final scene was a disappointment as well. It’s a SPOILER, but since this is fairy tale and all, perhaps mother, father and child should at least TOUCH at the end of the movie. They don’t have to have a conversation and relive twelve years or anything, but can a brother get a hug? Prince Charming didn’t just wave at Snow White did he?

Anyway, I’ve typed enough. I’m sorry that the world is in such a sad state that there is no place for a well done, syrupy, sappy, melodramatic fairy tale with nice music and has the required happy ending. This probably would have got better reviews if upon meeting his parents August picked up a bowling pin and beat them to death.  Which, admittedly, would've been awesome.