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August Rush
DVD disk
03.27.2008 By: Jason Adams
August Rush order
Director:
Kirsten Sheridan

Actors:
Freddie Highmore
Keri Russell
Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An orphaned boy travels to New York City and uses his love of music to find his long lost biological parents.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
As a musician/music lover who gets physically angry when people stand motionless at concerts, I’m totally game for a movie about the power of music…even if it stars Freddie Highmore and Felicity. That being said, there were parts of AUGUST RUSH that worked in that regard, but the movie didn’t fully captivate me.

My main concern was in the tone and execution. The script is trite and self-serving; full of head-slapping coincidences and improbable connections, and the dialogue is overly sappy. Every character talks in statements of grandiose wonder and new age-y mysticisms, half of which are about hearing music and wishes in the wind and rain. This makes the love story between Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell seem forced and hokey. (The crux of the movie is essentially the world’s most magical one night stand.) It also makes Highmore seem downright loony at times, standing in fields of wheat conducting nature as if it were a symphony, or talking to his non-existent parents through songs he hears in the wind. The cynical bastard in me wanted a doctor to randomly tap him on the shoulder and say, “Um, son, you have severe schizophrenia. Hope you like shock therapy.”

However, if you look at AUGUST RUSH as a fairy tale-type story, one primarily geared towards kids that you don’t have to take too seriously, it works a lot better. The random coincidences and lapses in logic can be replaced by the pure emotion of the family friendly story and make it easier to get sucked in to August’s journey. (Thankfully Highmore’s performance is sincere enough to make it work.) And the film does treat its musical content with enough respect and wonder to capture the powerful effect a great song can have on a person. That doesn’t make it any less predictable or corny, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the very end had me all gooey and emotional. So stylistically AUGUST RUSH may be almost unbearably melodramatic and clichéd, but done on purpose and without remorse.

Also, I wanted to point this out but couldn’t fit it anywhere else in the review: Robin Williams has a supporting role as a man named Wizard, who runs a gang of homeless ethnic child musicians out of an old abandoned theater. (I did not make that up.)
THE EXTRAS
Additional Scenes (10:06): You get closure on some threads and a few attempts to humanize Robin Williams’ character, but both come with some seriously clichéd and sappy dialogue.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Music is everywhere! Mostly because people nowadays don’t leave their homes without their iPods. But I digress… AUGUST RUSH should work well for kids (and adults who love music to a near spiritual level), who can overlook the storytelling issues and see the heartfelt story for what it is.

Extra Tidbit: Terrance Howard, in his Brian Cox-like quest to appear in every movie made from now on, also co-stars in AUGUST RUSH.
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