Not as bad as "Plan 9 From Outer Space," but we're talking about a big-budget feature of the 21st Century. I'm reminded of "The Producers," in search of a sure flop, but we're in on the joke. This time, there's no joke, and I'm not kidding.
Poor August Rush. He hears things. When he's not hearing things, he thinks about the thing that has never existed in his life; his parents. But fear not. The spirit forces are working in his favor. The spirits are working overtime: with the mother in Chicago, with the father in San Francisco, with the social worker, the black minister, the pig-tailed little girl with the big voice, and the guitar-playing black kid with rhythm. How are they all going to end up in the same place at the same time by the end of the movie and live happily ever after?
Well, it hardly matters. The parents, who don't actually know they have a son and spent all of one evening together in their lives, "it was a very special night," are playing Romeo and Juliet. August is living the life of The E.T., which I'm guessing is why he keeps looking to the stars for answers. Most of the other characters have bit roles in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and are inexplicably drawn to Central Park in New York on the same summer evening. On the other hand, the Pied Piper of musical street urchins, as played by Robin Williams, is really a musical Fagin straight out of "Oliver Twist," complete with hide out full of boys who share their day's earnings on the street with "the family." He spends a lot of time counting money; lots of it.
By the way, 12-year-old August is supposed to be a musical prodigy. Can you believe that he actually masters the guitar, the piano, composition, and conducting in six months? No problem. His parents are also unbelievably talented. We know, because the rockin' father can pick up a guitar that hasn't been played in 12 years and it's magically in perfect tune. The "virgin" mother's (we don't actually know that there was a conception or a birth) cello playing is so remarkable, that after twelve years of silence and an untouched cello, the New York Philharmonic mails her a letter to ask if she'll come play with them. Wow, this is special!
We sighed in disbelief, we groaned with pain, why the hell did we watch the entire movie of "August Rush?" There was one well-played role and it happened to be my mother-in-law, Marian Seldes, in the role of the Dean of Juilliard; a thankless role but one with a small shred of dignity. Marian actually taught Robin Williams in the first years of the Juilliard Drama Department, but it hardly mattered. Absurd plot, bad script, horrific direction, and inexcusably bad movie—its a script that appears to have been written by someone with no knowledge of reality and a high regard for coincidence and miracles.
On the bright side, I've heard anecdotally that the movie was shown on a lot of airplane flights. Pleasant dreams.