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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.9%
Worth A Look35.48%
Average: 3.23%
Pretty Bad: 19.35%
Total Crap: 29.03%

3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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August Rush
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by Eugene Novikov

"A good, old-fashioned, straight-up disaster."
1 stars

There are a lot of people who will check out upon simply hearing the concept of AUGUST RUSH. A precociously gifted little boy (strike one!) uses his prodigious musical talent (strike two!) to search for his musician parents who unwittingly abandoned him at birth (yer out!). Music, you see, functions as a "harmonic connection between human beings," and if he just "follows the music," the boy is convinced, his parents are bound to find him (run for your lives!). I am actually not one of those who panics at the sound of this; in fact, it's the sort of openly, daringly sentimental conceit I can get behind, under the wrong circumstances. So the fact that I essentially hated AUGUST RUSH should tell you what you need to know about the sort of stunning disaster it turns out to be.

We've seen at least two other movies this year about child musical prodigies -- I'm thinking of Joshua and Vitus -- and August Rush compares to neither of them favorably. They are two of the year's best films, and though they couldn't be more different, they both worked because their pint-size protagonists had such magnetic personalities. Joshua was murderous and terrifying, and Vitus a charmer, but both were brilliant and both were interesting. And both could kick August Rush's ass.

The movie certainly convinces us that August (actually Evan; August Rush is a cooler stage name given to him by Robin Williams) is a musical genius -- he ends the movie conducting the New York Philharmonic performing his own symphony in the middle of Central Park, for Christ's sake -- but it decides, for some utterly inexplicable reason, to make him basically an idiot savant. He wanders through the movie greeting all comers with the same blank stare and sheepish smile, assenting to everything, and retreating to the corner with a guitar at every opportunity. The filmmakers got Freddie Highmore, the hottest kid actor of the moment and one of the most talented, to play August, but they needn't have spent the money, since anyone would have done as well. Teo Gheorghiu -- a pianist, not an actor -- eked twice as much personality out of Vitus as Highmore does here, though it's hardly Highmore's fault. The movie is so enamored of its brilliant notion that music is a harmonic! connection! between all human beings! that it turns its title character into a zombie.

The movie around him, meanwhile, is laughably histrionic, every scene an emotional epiphany of one sort or another. It flails around wildly, as if constantly trying to jolt the audience out of a stupor -- look, there's Robin Williams loudly doing what Robin Williams does (in this case playing a crazy street music guru who leads a battalion of underage buskers); there's a weirdly talented 10 year-old gospel singer; there's Terrence Howard, in a mystifying bit part, trying to lend the proceedings some much-needed dignity. There is also the flashbacks to August's parents' fateful tryst, which go for an iconic star-cross'd-lovers feel (He's a rocker! She's a cellist! It can never be!) but instead feel desperate -- they spend what seems like 10 minutes together before leaping into the sack (actually a rooftop sofa), are abruptly separated in the morning, and spend the next eleven years silently pining for each other. Love at first sight indeed. You may need codeine.

The best thing that can be said for Kirsten Sheridan's directorial debut is that it calls a spade a spade and makes the stock Robin Williams character a genuine lunatic instead of an eccentric saint. The rest of August Rush is in desperate need of some decaf, and a human being for a title character rather than a vacuous stand-in. This is far from the year's worst film, but it might be the year's biggest debacle -- it's hugely, ostentatiously bad.

(Reprinted from

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originally posted: 11/22/07 09:52:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Chicago International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/19/17 Charles Tatum Starts badly, but definitely stick with it. 4 stars
3/17/10 Joey Wonderful flick. 5 stars
8/23/09 The Great Lee Card Beautiful music, tears came for sure and I'm a dude 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. i didn't know jonathan rhys meyers could sing before i watched this. 4 stars
7/20/08 g. a steaming pile of shite 1 stars
3/14/08 ap1werks unbelieveable yet good, watchin between major movie releases. 4 stars
3/14/08 Char Loved it! Excellent for what it is...a feel good, emotional, musical, fairytale! 5 stars
1/22/08 Pete really enjoyed the movie even if unbelieveable 4 stars
1/19/08 Strummer Aspartame Crap 1 stars
1/01/08 Deborah Finally - a fitting review for August Rush! 5 stars
11/28/07 Luisa very emotional; great music performances; loved it! 4 stars
11/27/07 Diana There is nothing that can redeem this film! 1 stars
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  21-Nov-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 11-Mar-2008



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