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Monday, 10 July 2017

Retro Movie Review: August Rush (2007) #RobinWilliams

August Rush
Cast: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terence Howard, Robin Williams 
Genre: Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $65 million

Plot: A drama with fairy tale elements, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents

'A Mind-numbing Bore'

Sentimental schmaltz with not so memorable music and a forgettable story, August Rush, quite frankly, is not only a tepid and bland drama that doesn't do much to lift people's spirits, but as a Robin Williams film itself, it is another offering from the 2000s that comes nowhere close to Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting of the 1980s and 1990s in terms of performances. 

Up until now, Toys had reigned for me as one of my least favourite movies starring/featuring Robin Williams, but that title is overtaken by August Rush. Alas, August Rush is, sadly, another post - 2000s mediocre film from this particular decade of performances of Williams. 

A young boy deprived of his 'destiny', whatever that may be and his misadventures, whilst following the music. Whatever that journey entails. There is also a sub-story with a woman having a fling with an Irish guy, she becomes pregnant, child grows up in an orphanage and he goes to lengths to reconnect with his parents. 

Whenever the musical performances came on, I completely zoned out; the songs aren't great, are occasionally cringing and not memorable. It was a cheese fest. The dialogue is so boring to sit through, and as much as we can say Terrence Howard and Robin Williams were both miscast, with better and less sappy material on hand, it would have elevated their performances. A movie about music should be inviting and interesting to watch, but here it is conceived in such a tepid and dreary way. 

The story arcs barely make any sense - two musicians fall in love, that they could never find each other, a baby is born and sent to an orphanage without the mother's consent - and the child protagonist, for me anyhow, is virtually unrelatable and the faux angst becomes nauseating. It's startling to think that for some people by throwing in a cute kid, Robin Williams and an idea for a good film, they assume that equates to a good movie. It doesn't. Fans of TV show Ugly Betty will recognise Becki Newton as Jennifer in a supporting role. Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers lack real chemistry for me to buy them as a couple.

As for Williams, he, as Wizard Rush, appears at the post 30 min mark: he shouts, but in all honesty, I wasn't a fan of his character, who came off as being unsympathetic, a grouchy douche-bag who hoards missing and orphaned children as part of a money-making scheme. & I just don't know what to make of his cowboy look and the hooped earrings he had on. And though he does turn on the charm and becomes likeable, as Wizard he didn't leave much of an impression on me. It is not by any means Robin's best performance; it's not outright terrible, but as much as I think he can play any protagonist role, this one just didn't do it for me. He has his critics and yes, he is one of those stars you either love or loathe; as a fan, I love most of his work, but with August Rush, it was a role that was a tad far-fetched. I wasn't fooled by the inclusion of Robin Williams, despite his energy (although I should also add it was a bit too over-the-top at times) it doesn't matter how big a name he was - the film has to make me smile, care for the characters, make me enjoy the film. August Rush didn't do that. I felt nothing for them.

The film could have done with more realism and without the fantasy-like elements, and though the emotional impact is felt in some scenes, this is also taken away because of the sentimentality and schmaltz that is heavy - laden and preachy that dilutes the film. And the power of music reuniting his parents, in the end, is a bit far-fetched - and I'm not trying to sound cynical or bitter to appreciate what the filmmakers were doing here; but it is more like that their execution implies they were way over themselves; that they were trying to be more ambitious. Yet whatever it was, the over-sentimental, syrupy tone the movie evoked was a huge blight on August Rush. & I didn't buy an ounce of it because it was so incredibly cornball-like. 

Lest of all, I just couldn't connect with the film, or any of its characters, especially the boy August/Evan, whereby Freddie Rushmore's turn is one-note-ish and pedestrian with little range. August is a child character who isn't annoying for the sake of being annoying - he is a character where nothing about him conveys that he seems real, never mind genuine. 

& the ending was too mawkish for my tastes.


Pros +

- Looks nice 


- Is overly sentimental & cheesy

- Boring, Insipid and uninspired story

- Songs were not great, to be honest 

- The suspension of disbelief was too high

- Just couldn't connect with any of the characters and their story arcs

Final Verdict:

Do not be fooled by the IMDb over 7 score: I know I wasn't. This is mind-numbing, sleep-inducing cringe and a total bore with a story that didn't make an impression on me. But for a few chase sequences, August Rush is profoundly mediocre in its execution and despite its Oliver Twist, Peter Pan and other fairy tale influences, its supposed charm masks how dreary August Rush is. 
Over time, it has become forgettable and hardly anyone talks about it, and especially in terms of it being a Robin Williams film, which is no surprise to myself. 

Dead Poets Society, The World According to Garp, Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King - yes, they are talked about by fans, but this movie, August Rush, it's not. 

I don't doubt that music itself, can touch people's hearts in so many ways, as well as their souls, yet despite its good intentions, it's just too bad with a bit more effort in making the story entertaining and with less reliance on the sentimentality, not only would August Rush been a lot more believable, it would have also made it far more watchable. 

Instead, what is construed as soulful, is in fact, soulless and a sheer bore. & a waste of Robin Williams talents. Robin's career in the 2000s was a mere shadow of the global success and fame he had with Mork & Mindy and his movie career of the 1980s and 1990s - and the films he had starred or appeared in right after One Hour Photo and Insomnia, have been mostly dreadful, in my opinion. 

With offerings such as 2007's August Rush that for me, affirms that very notion. 


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