I realized a fun local tie in to your movie watching is to pay attention to films that prominently feature blurbs by CBS/CW’s own Mark S. Allen. One such piece of crap is “August Rush,” which I’m embarrassed to say I rented with the wife. We thought it would be a charmingly flawed popcorn rental, and we’re suckers for the Felicity and the Rhys-Meyers. And yes, we knew that Robin Williams made an appearance. Allen’s quote, on the cover of the DVD, is “Your heart will be singing and your spirit will soar!” Replace heart with bowels, and spirit with desire to physically damage your television, and you got yourself a quote.
It’s not the most terrible movie ever. The kid sure is cute. But for a movie to contain a Fagin-like character who collects street boys and makes them perform for money, it has to have a certain fable-like quality. Our Fagin here is Robin Williams, played like a Bono with ambiguous sexuality (Bono’s all man, in case you thought I missed a joke there). He has a harem of young boys (I think some girls too) living in a condemned theater and he forces the most musically gifted ones to perform on the street and is always across the park/subway station on the phone trying to line stuff up as their representation. It is extremely creepy, and the filmmakers don’t appear to have foreseen that reaction, even though they have Williams’ character act as an obstacle to the boy.
That’s not the most unrealistic aspect of the movie, however. That mantle goes to the movie’s central moment, in which the boy is taken from his mother and given up for adoption based on a forged signature. I don’t know what kind of low-rent generic hospitals they have in New York City, but I’m pretty sure a form like that would not be of the “drop-it-off-hey get it back to me when you can” variety. Tough to forge a signature on, for sure. The girl apparently leaves the hospital thinking she lost her baby in childbirth, but didn’t think twice when she was given no guidance on her recovery from that or told to schedule a checkup or anything. Oh Felicity, that Ben must have really done a number on you. Terrence Howard is also in the film, providing more reality-bending plot points, such as sending the boy’s mother upstate to the orphanage, even though he knew the boy had escaped to New York.
The movie’s central theme is that the boy is a musical prodigy and he follows “the music” all the way back to the parents who didn’t even know he existed. His musical genius expresses itself through a percussive guitar style. What this movie needs is more guitar slapping. I have a fever, and the only cure, is more guitar slapping.
Anyway it is pretty terrible. Thanks a lot, Mark S Allen!