August Rush Review
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There are some movies that don’t work simply because they were doomed from the start—a bad concept, bad story, bad cast. Others, like August Rush, seem to have everything going for them—a great idea, a great cast—and yet, for some reason, they can’t seem to pull it together into something good. And this kind of movie—the one that could have been and should have been so very good but, for some reason, wasn’t—is, in the end, even more disappointing and more frustrating than the truly, horribly bad movie.

As I said, the idea behind August Rush sounded like a winner. One night in New York, two musicians—concert cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and rock band frontman Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)—meet at a party. The connection is instant, but, after one magical night together, they never see each other again. Louis is heartbroken over losing her, and he quits the band. Lyla soon discovers that she’s pregnant—but just before she’s supposed to give birth, she has an accident, and she’s told that she lost the baby. Devastated over the loss, she turns her back on performing—much to her demanding father’s disappointment—and becomes a music teacher.

Eleven years later, a little boy named Evan (Freddie Highmore) decides that it’s time to leave the orphanage where he’s lived all his life. He’s an outcast there, and the other kids call him a freak because he hears music that no one else can hear. He knows that his parents are out there—and if he just follows the music that he hears, he’ll be able to find them.

On top of the creative and practically foolproof tearjerker of a story, August Rush offers a talented cast. Freddie Highmore has proven himself as a phenomenal child actor time and time again. And Keri Russell’s performance in Waitress was wonderful. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, no.

Though there are some absolutely wonderful moments in August Rush—as well as some spectacular music—so many things about it are just too easy. Too neat. There are too many coincidences and too many forced little details. And there are too many things that just don’t make sense—like why, after being so tremendously heartbroken over a woman whom he thought was The One, it would take a guy 11 years to head to Google, look her up, and give her a call.

While the lead actors give notable performances, as expected, others are too over-the-top. Robin Williams, as the homeless pied piper who takes Evan in, looks like a crazed, red-headed Bono. And the other kids are just too cutesy.

But perhaps the film’s greatest crime: it tries way too hard to tug at the audience’s heartstrings—and, in doing so, it fails miserably.

I really wanted to love this movie—and I wasn’t the only one. Even some of my male colleagues expected to love it—like’s proud new dad, David Medsker, who admitted that he came to the screening totally prepared to sob through the closing credits. But while it should have been—and, in fact, came so close to being—sweet and heartwarming, August Rush was, instead, painfully obvious and even exhausting. And that makes all the more disappointing.

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