Haley Joel Osment’s baby Jesus from Pay It Forward continues to do God’s, err, Hollywood’s handiwork, resurrecting himself in Freddie Highmore’s Evan Taylor, a presumably orphaned little boy who follows the music in the wind, the air, and the light—like a trail of breadcrumbs—all the way to the parents who don’t even know he exists. This mawkish film pathologically adheres to the belief that musical ability is an innate thing, and so it is that when renowned cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and Irish guitarist Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) bump uglies during a one-night stand staged within eyesight of Washington Square Park’s magical marble arch, they unknowingly collaborate on an embryo that will one day become an avant-garde musical prodigy with an uncanny ability to mix styles old and new (which basically comes down to playing a guitar as if it were a drum). Whisked away from Louis by her stage father, Lyla is told that the unborn Evan died when she was hit by a car, when, in truth, the tyke is secretly tucked away inside a cozy New England halfway house, where the wind chimes outside his room will one day flip the switch on his musical genius. Soon he is off to sweetly dangerous New York City, where he falls in with a Dickensian group of homeless kids and part-time musicians micromanaged by a red-haired and pierced Fagin played by an attention-starved human monkey (Robin Williams). Soon Evan—street name August Rush—is sucking in da city’s noise and spitting out his musical funk, attending Julliard and scoring a concert gig in Central Park at the same time as the stars align to bring Lyla and Louis together again. In spite of its flabbergasting self-absorption, August Rush‘s devotion to following through on its screwy internal logic is almost genius, and while the film doesn’t make any play for real-world resonance, there may be a message here for abandoned crack babies (take up the pipe and follow the piss-stained linoleum road of AIDS-infected needles straight to your long-lost junkie parents), in which case it definitely blows.
- Warner Bros.
- 113 min
- Kirsten Sheridan
- Nick Castle, James V. Hart
- Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams, Leon G. Thomas III, Terrence Howard, Jamia Simone Nash
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