Monday, May 26, 2008

Tone Deaf: Music Within

I know now that Steven Sawalich has created a movie so flawed, that no movie this year has compared to it's badness. Sure, it's not the worst movie I've seen, but in a year of moviemaking brilliance, this piece of trailer-trash looks and feels like an unedited mess. I should have known that a blurb by Larry King was the kiss of death. Of the two movies I had seen before, 1 was great and 1 sucked. Those two movies were Friday Night Lights and Ladder 49. I must say that this one belongs with the latter in the category of dumb, horrendous movies. The first twenty minutes are some of the most cruel I've ever heard. Ron Livingston, the actor who plays the main character Richard Pimentel, is reading off the occurrences of terrible events with a very disturbing tongue-in-cheek voice, such as that of his father's death. He's saying what everybody's Kryptonite is, and he reads for his dad "Soy sauce" in that very manner. It's extremely depressing, and it sets a tone that the movie doesn't want to set. Also, the titles are uncoordinated, but that's the least of this movie's problems. The next problem: the Vietnam sequence. Every Vietnam sequence made by an inexperienced director includes the following cliches: the helicopter panning shot, the tall grass shot, and the 60's music playing in the background. This movie uses those cliches and has nothing to offer. Anyways, a bomb blast deafens the lead character and sets off a chain of extremely stupid sequences known as the second act. The movie repeatedly disregards the fact that the lead character is deaf, as in certain bits Pimentel can "hear" people without even looking at them. It's as if you are making a movie about someone with one leg, and the person is suddenly walking with two legs. It's that dumb. I know that this movie is based on a true story, but if the movie keeps straying from the facts, it might as well be a fictional film. Another problem: the movie seems like one huge montage, and it feels as if you could sum the movie into 5 minutes. The narration impairs this movie because it keeps it like an overview and therefore a montage. It's just that you could watch the trailer and get more satisfaction then watching the whole 94 minutes of the movie. Another pitfall: the acting sucks. Ron Livingston, known for his comedic genius in Office Space, plays Pimentel like a robot, spewing lines woodenly and sleepwalking through his role. The problem is he trips and falls down the stairs. Melissa George gives bad girlfriend, as she is a predictable presence. Michael Sheen is the only person that gives the movie watchability, as the cerebral-palsy-suffering friend Art, who gives a performance that would make Daniel Day-Lewis clap. It would have been a wise decision to make him the lead character and Pimentel the supporting character, but judging on the terrible quality and lack of scope this movie possesses, I doubt the filmmakers even thought of that. Another thing: the movie said the mom had died towards the beginning, but apparently not, because she makes an appearance later. I guess the words "she left us" now mean she went to a nursing home. Another thing: for a movie called Music Within, the music choices in this are only 70's hits, really uninspired choices for such a movie. At a certain point, you wish the music was only within and you were deaf to it. One last problem: the stupid writing. Any movie that uses the phrase "testicle tag team" is extremely uninspired. In fact, that phrase should go down in history as a landmark pinnacle of stupidity. Actually, write this movie down for that spot instead. D+

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