August Rush (2007)

Rated: PG for some thematic elements, mild violence and language.
Length: 114 minutes
Grade: A+B+AA+=A
Budget: $25 million
Box Office: $76 million ($32 US, $27 Intl, $17 DVD)

Written by: Paul Castro (Nothing), Nick Castle (Escape from LA), Hook, Escape from New York, and Tag: The Assassination Game, which I only mention because at least 25 of you know you saw it and won’t admit it), and James V. Hart (Last Mimzy, Sahara, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, Tuck Everlasting, Contact, Dracula, and Hook)
Directed by: Kristen Sheridan with her first movie in 6 years, and the others aren’t worth mentioning.
Starring: Freddy Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howward, and Robin Williams.

After a one-night tryst between concert cellist, Lyla Novcaek, and an Irish rocker, Louis Connelly, Lyla has an accident and her father tells her she lost the baby though he secretly gave him up to an orphanage. Years later, Evan Taylor leaves on a quest to find his parents, who he knows he will be reunited with through the power of music.

Entertainment Value: A+
Can I just start by saying that Freddy Highmore really gets around. He has been in a host of outstanding kids movies (Arthur and the Invisibles, Golden Compass, A Good Year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, and both twin brothers in Spiderwick Chronicles). And he’s 16 if you can believe it! (2/14/1992) Okay, I got that out of my system. This is a fabulous movie, certainly in good company with the other outsdanding pro-life movies from last year, Bella, Juno, and Waitress (also starring Keri Russell). The music, the plot, the message, all of it was wonderful. Wonderful, I say. Was it plausible? I’ll discuss that below.

Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence B+, Language B+, Illegality B+
PG is correct, certainly. But that’s only because of the choice to use some mild language, by the kids no less, and for a small number of semi-scary scenes, including a car accident. And yes, the opening scene with sex clearly implied and an ensuing pregnancy.

Significant Content: A
First, it’s a pro-life movie because her dad tries to talk her into an abortion, and even after he lies to her about the baby living, she regrets the loss. Also, it asserts a deep connection between people who are related, even if they’ve never or only briefly met. Music is a fundamental language of the universe.

Artistic/Thought Value: A+
Okay, my wife didn’t particularly love this movie. But the reason was that so many of the events were impossibly unlikely. To which I said, “Who cares.” No one looks at a Van Gogh or a Picasso and complains that it’s not realistic enough. The whole point of great art is to reveal or express something deep or meaningful, and if it requires a lack of realism to do that, so what? You must suspend your disbelief over many elements of this movie in order to enjoy it, but if you can bring yourself to do this, you’ll really discover something beautiful waiting for you.

Discussion Questions:
~Do you believer in fate? Is this a movie about fate or about the universe being willing to cooperate with us in accomplishing our deepest desires if we decide to act toward them?
~Why does Evan decide to go with Wizard instead of the teachers? Have you ever had an irrational fear paralyze you or make you do something foolish?
~Do you believe that music connects us with other people? Have you ever felt the power of such a musical connection? If so, then what do you make of our modern culture, which is so divided over musical issues both inside and outside of the church?
~Is it fair to say that films are more reliable than God? Consider how we react to movies when they fail to give us the endings we desire in contrast with the way life so regularly doesn’t give us what we desire. Does this mean that movies are a form of idolatry because they create a world that is so different than God’s?
~What do you think of the relationship between Wizard and the kids? Is he exploiting them or helping them?
~In what ways does this movie perform like a musical symphony?
~Do you think it’s possible for someone who has never played an instrument to so quickly become a musical prodigy? Does it matter whether this is plausible?
~What’s the difference between a gift from God or natural talent and an ability you learn through instruction?
Overall Grade: A
I cried, more than once. I clapped when it was over. My wife looked at me like I was out of my mind.

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