I Rented August Rush (movie review)

10 Jul

augustrushBy Amy Sondova While August Rush is definitely a cool name for a musician, it’s a terrible movie. Maybe I’m just not into feel-good films that have a limited grasp on reality unless they’re in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I’m not sure how to classify August Rush except to reemphasize the fact it wasted two hours of my life.

The plot revolves around Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore), an abandoned 11-year-old boy who has lived in an orphanage in New York his entire life. He hears music in the world around him and believes that his parents are going to come fetch him up one day. Everyone he meets thinks his idealism is crazy, but are impressed with his natural musical ability. In fact, he’s some sort of musical prodigy composing his first piece of music only minutes after learning how to read notes.

Understandably, there are kids who will take to music like a fish to water. However, I doubt a kid who just plucks on a guitar for a couple of hours is going to sound like Carlos Santana shortly thereafter. The story gets more and more ridiculous as it goes along. Evan changes his name to August Rush under the direction of Wizard (Robin Williams), a bitter hoodlum who takes in runaway children and exploits their musical talents to make a buck.

Throughout the movie, August says that he must play his music so his parents can find him. Ironically, his parents are both musicians—Lyla, (Keri Russell), the classically-trained cellist and Louis, (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), the Scottish rocker. One starry night, Lyla and Louis meet, procreate, and are parted. After getting hit by a car, Lyla delivers early and without her knowledge, her father forges her signature, signing away her parental rights. Her father confesses his sin on his deathbed causing Lyla to search for her son 11 years later. Meanwhile, Louis, (who doesn’t know he has a son), can’t forget about Lyla and decides to make contact with her after 11 years. In a bizarre twist of events, music brings them all together and a family that was torn asunder is reunited.

I know I should just suspend my disbelief, but I can’t. I can’t get past the fact that Lyla would have needed a witness to watch her sign her baby away and that there haven’t been orphanages in the United States for over 30 years. A baby put up for adoption has a great chance of being adopted, not institutionalized. Not only that, but Lyla would never be able to extract the information about Evan’s whereabouts from his children and youth caseworker. If the plot is this shaky from the beginning, how are we supposed to believe that Louis loves Lyla after a one-night stand? How can we accept that August is really that talented?

If you want to see more of Keri Russell, rent Season 2 of Felicity. Watching her navigate through the perils of college life is much better than trying to understand this messy plot.

Print copy of review.

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No Responses to “I Rented August Rush (movie review)”

  1. Ginger July 14, 2008 at 10:51 AM #

    You wasted two hours of your life watching August Rush? I wasted an hour watching the BBC special, The Worse Teeth in Britian, a shocumentary.
    Some movies are even too bad to be shown on red eye flights.

  2. kim July 18, 2008 at 7:24 AM #

    I loved this movie! I agree that it is completely fantasy but I thought the sound track was amazing and the boy who played “august rush” was a terrific actor. Todd and I both ended the movie crying.

  3. sandra lumed August 2, 2008 at 10:32 PM #

    I found the movie touching. I have no doubts that the idea came from a lovely mind who wants to find beauty in life nowadays.
    I also believe the film makes people think which connections are possible to exist.

  4. hmks August 27, 2008 at 3:28 PM #

    I didn’t mind this movie, but had some of the same issues you did. The orphanage and adoption papers are two things I also noticed too!

    The music sounded canned – when they were playing on the streets, it didn’t have an authentic sound. This was really annoying! “Once” was a beautiful movie that refrained from using canned music and it worked well.

    I thought it would have been a better movie if it had been based on a true story. But then again, it would have been a pretty unbelievable true story!!!

  5. Amy August 27, 2008 at 3:35 PM #

    HMKS, finally! Someone who doesn’t think I’m a jerk for not liking the movie. 🙂

  6. Amy August 27, 2008 at 3:36 PM #

    P.S. I think all the Harry Potter books are definitely true stories. 🙂

  7. Jon November 9, 2008 at 3:39 AM #

    I agree with some of the points you made, but don’t agree that the movie was a waste of time. Not all movies are supposed to be true or based on actual fact. They are supposed to make you think… This movie is a tragedy based on a young boys wish of finding his parents using the only means at his disposal (a connection through sound). It shows all of us that love is the most important thing. Not only love for your family, but love for the few things that are out of our control like the natural gift of music. To me, this movie was a good reminder of why we should all follow our dreams to the fullist.

  8. Dan November 22, 2008 at 6:37 AM #

    I thought August Rush was a wonderful movie!!!
    The music was wonderful. Kerri Russel & Johnath Myers Ryers
    sang & played there instruments.(per credits)
    Granted the ending left you with questions
    and several items were unrealistic.
    I was entertained from beginning from end
    I can’t wait for the soundtrack

  9. Susan February 11, 2009 at 2:26 PM #

    I feel really sorry for you. You missed the whole point of the movie. It is so sad that you do not believe in possibilities. It was a story about love, music and believing in something unseen. A story does not have to be real to inspire. My native culture has thousands of stories many not real but served our culture for thousands of years. That what a story is supposed to do. Teach about how to live life. Have you heard of the Great Mystery, it is not meant to be solved. I am a Musician and Social worker. I have seen some pretty incredible kids.I have seen families find one another against impossible odds. My own grand son who is 17 months old is playing the piano and carries a tune and he sings on key. History is full of examples of Prodigies , Mozart , Beethoven not to mention the thousands of children who are reading at 9months old and playing like Mozart.Did you know Freddie Highmore learned to play that gutiar in 6 months? That is pretty amazing. Kerri Russel learned that cello piece in 3 months. It is one of the most difficult pieces to play. She had piano lessons as a young child but nothing else. I would say that reality was part of the movie. Open your heart you just might hear the music.

  10. D February 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM #

    What is a movie? sorry to say you write reviews for something you don’t know. Movie is an art- theme can be anything-it can be fantasy-but it should be enjoyable. The great thing about this movie is its music. They put everything around music. Art is not defined by reality- it is imagination, creativity, beauty! Try to enjoy beauty instead of being in a ‘world of your own’.

    • Amy February 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM #

      Man, you guys get really up-in-arms about a movie. This is my opinion and it can differ from yours.

  11. Ricardo March 26, 2009 at 9:52 PM #

    So… why then, did you want to spend so much more of your otherwise valuable time to say you were less than o.k. with the movie?

    Besides, did your parents not make up stories for you as a kid? Have you not ever read Oliver Twist? Have you not ever jumped headlong into the story of Treasure Island or Swiss Family Robinson knowing that it’s not real, but you sometimes want to float on the idea of magical adventures for the sheer enjoyment?

    Oh, you must be the one that goes for a thrilling ride on the roller coaster, then takes all that time to tell everyone you can think of, “I only got dizzy and threw up.” when everyone else just enjoyed the thrill of the thrill ride.

    • Amy March 26, 2009 at 11:48 PM #

      Well, Ricardo, since I was reviewing the movie, I thought that I would spend more of my valuable time telling the folks why I didn’t like it. It’s what reviewers do.

      Just because I don’t like this movie does not mean I have no mind for fantasy. I did not like the plot, context, filmography, script, characters, or dialogue–all of which make a movie good, in my opinion.

      Again, this is only my opinion! I find it a little disconcerting that how I feel about one movie sums up my entire person. Feel free to disagree with my thoughts, but let’s stop deriding me personally.

  12. Ricardo March 27, 2009 at 9:49 AM #

    Well, said Amy. I’ll respect that & move away from the personal after this one point. Providing a movie review is a personal response. It’s what the reviewer internalized as the action/storyline unfolded.

    You hit the nail on the head about focusing on whether the plot & context hooked the viewer and floated him/her to each succeeding activity or event in the storyline. Knowing this was a “fantasy”, I duly suspended myself into this ride and allowed it to take me where ever it lead and toward whether the experience thrilled me, touched me or swayed me. This one did it for me.

    I don’t know much about filmography, but I did think that the editing of the film still allowed me to predict or expect the next event. When it took an unexpected twist, it delighted me.

    The characters were plausible. There were the good guys, the nemeses and the supporting actors that filled out the scenery. I didn’t think the dialogue was stilted, over-the-top or overacted. I wasn’t bored by any slowdown in the plot; it actually allowed me to breathe and catch up with my thoughts before it carried me away again.

    Overall, I enjoyed the ride and I’d pay to take this ride again.

  13. Amy March 27, 2009 at 9:51 AM #

    Awesome! I’m glad you enjoyed the movie! I have no problem with discussion or disagreement with what I’ve written. 🙂 Just don’t make it personal. 🙂

  14. Daniel Cole June 21, 2009 at 9:35 PM #

    I just wasted 1.5 minutes of my life reading Amy Sondova’s negative commentary on August Rush. What a boring life Amy…no imaginary fantasies.

  15. Cristina August 30, 2009 at 4:17 PM #

    Amy, I totally agree with you. This movie’s plot was rubbish. It’s one thing for a story to not be in accordance with reality, but it needs to define it’s premise and then work within it in a logical way. This movie was set in real life, where we expect real life sorts of things to happen. Then we are asked to believe in all the lame coincidences and dumb scenarios that take place, the worst of all (for me) was August’s immediate ability to master anything and everything musical. The movie takes itself too seriously to be so far-fetched.

    This movie was about music. It could have been done SO much better. What about a kid who’s been separated from his parents in some believable way, and has a passion for music, WORKS HARD AT IT FOR YEARS, gains success in the industry and reunites with is parents via his large audience. That would have been way more inspirational and believable.

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