Adventures in magical music

Though most films require only a ticket stub and some popcorn, August Rush calls for viewers to bring something extra – an imagination. An appreciation for music helps, too. The film boasts a soundtrack that’s almost as lovely as the actors themselves.

August Rush could be classified as a modern-day fairy tale and is nothing short of delightful, albeit far-fetched.

Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell of Waitress, Felicity) and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers of Match Point, Vanity Fair) create a musical lovechild who, due to complications, is left at a home for boys.

The movie opens with an interpretation of the world through Evan’s (Freddie Highmore of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland) eyes, as he conducts the music he hears blowing through a wheat field.

After nearly 10 years of being called a “freak” and longing for his family, Evan seeks out his parents by “following the music.”

Along the way he runs into a crook by the name of “Wizard” (Robin Williams) who exploits homeless, musically talented children. Though über -sleazy, Wizard offers an exceptional and universal definition of music: “Harmonic connection between all living things.”

The boy also meets a friendly girl in a church choir and some helpful Julliard professors who are all astounded by his profound comprehension of music.

Highmore offers a noteworthy, high-energy performance, and his enchantment with music comes across as genuine. Meyers’ also delivers a strong musical role, performing his character’s songs himself.

The plot could have been delivered as hokey whimsical nonsense about musical geniuses who never recovered from the past – but the story is so deftly woven that it is more dynamic and entertaining than bizarre.

To keep the story a bit believable, it deals with a variety of themes: family, romance, survival and bravery.

The only movie remotely comparable is the French film Les Choristes (2004), a story about boys at an orphanage finding happiness through performing music.

The downside: There’s a frustration factor similar to that of Serendipity (2001) and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), where bad things just keep happening.

The plot is revealed far more to the audience than to the characters, firing up a desire to jump in to the movie screen and shake some sense into the actors and to point them in the right direction.

Despite a few shortcomings in the realism department, the film is still enjoyable and provides a satisfying ending.

A word to the critics who gave the film negative reviews: If you can’t get past your longing for a contrived musical about orphans with a pretty bow wrapped around it, you should re-watch Annie on your VCR.

Grade: B+Run time: 100 minutesRating: PG