Music Never Stopped, The

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +3

Content: +1

J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci. Comedy/drama. Written by Gwyn Lurie, Gary Marks. Directed by Jim Kohlberg.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Chronicles the heartwarming journey of a father and son adjusting to cerebral trauma and a lifetime of missed opportunities through the music that embodied the generation gap of the 1960s. After having a tumor removed from his brain a 40-year-old man, a one-time musician wannabe, is nearly comatose, unable to communicate until music is played from his era. Based on a case study by Dr. Oliver Sacks (Awakenings), the film features music from Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Grateful Dead.

PREVIEW REVIEW: There are two things that make this a wonderful movie: the stance taken showing the magic of music on the entire body, from the brain to the soul, and the portrayal of parental love. The film delves into this mystic connection known as parent and child, reminding viewers of the uniqueness of the father/son dynamic, and each cast member hits high notes with his or her presentation of this dynamic.

On top of that, there’s the music. I’m about the same age as the lead in this film, so I know his generation’s music, Cream, the Rolling Stones and of course, the Grateful Dead. At the same time, my dad brought me up on the classics – Sinatra and Benny Goodman.

It was my introduction to Dixieland and Swing that opened me up to the wonders of melody and harmony. Unlike many of my generation, I didn’t rebel against the music of an earlier era. My tastes, as friends and girlfriends can attest, are eclectic. If you can appreciate Peggy Lee and Stevie Nicks, Perry Como and Willie Nelson, Pete Fountain and Elmer Bernstein, Elvis and Handel, then you know the magic of music. Truly it is a gift from God, for “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast” – a phrase coined by William Congreve in The Mourning Bride, 1697. Admittedly, the musical choices taking precedence on radio these days test that statement. The women singers wear meat to get noticed or yodel extra syllables with every lyric, and the men singers – well, there are no men singers today. But I digress. What’s more, I could be wrong, though the opposing argument would be led by people who have never listened to Lady Ella or Ol’ Blue Eyes (Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra).

It’s a clean film, though we do hear the expression “God d---” twice, as the father answers a Grateful Dead trivia question. That band was most likely the first group to use that irreverent phrase in a song. By now, my readers know my disgust with the profane use of God’s name in movies. But occasionally, profundity trumps profanity. I feel people will be moved by the film’s theme. That said, you’ve been warned that the phrase is in there, so if you’ve drawn the line in the sand concerning the attendance of movies containing the profane use of God’s name, well, as I say, you’ve been warned.

There is one other aspect that must be noted about this film. It’s made from the prospective that the older generations must learn from the younger. That’s true, but not as often as the ‘60s generation let us believe. The 1960s became a time of unrest in America as young people challenged wrongs, but also managed to ignore the teachings of the Bible, as if God also needed correction. Peace and love gave way to drugs and promiscuity. Overall, they became a self-serving, self-centered generation that often rebelled for rebellion’s sake. When they said “Make love, not war,” they would have been more honest with themselves if they would have said, “Have sex and ignore responsibility.” For that’s exactly what many did, becoming the first generation to put themselves before country, family and Creator. I know that’s a harsh statement, but remember, that was my generation and I saw it happening. It was the generation before that deserved the crowning of “Greatest Generation,” for it was the one that survived the Great Depression, fought a world takeover by fascism, rebuilt an ailing economy, and faced down the spread of Godless communism. My generation gave us bell bottoms and “Groovy.”

There’s also a continued rewriting of history as the film singles out Richard Nixon as being the soul contaminator of world events. Needing a face to represent villainy, the Love Generation dubbed the Viet Nam war as “Nixon’s War.” Many filmmakers conveniently forget that the true escalation of our presence in Viet Nam began with J.F.K. and L.B.J. And it was Richard Nixon, bad as he was, who got us out of there. Not J.F.K., not L.B.J. This is no defense of Nixon, just a correction needing to be said whenever Hollywood attempts to vilify the Right side of the aisle. It’s just frustrating that the liberal leaders of the entertainment community protect and serve their stooges like a corrupt police force, while hurling distain at the other side’s stooges.

But don’t let the brief politics turn you off to this film. Ultimately, it’s not about politics. It’s a portrait of a father’s love for his son. It’s an honest, brilliant realization of that love and a symbolic reminder of God’s love for us despite our foibles and failings: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11NIV.)

There are a lot of films out right now with crass comedy passing for wit and lots of actioneers filled with CGI things that go boom. There are, alas, few films that honestly depict true emotions by using the real special effects – story, dialogue and performance. The Music Never Stopped is an exception.

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Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Roadside Attractions

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: I caught none

Obscene Language: Two or three obscenities – the s-word

Profanity: Two profane uses of God’s name.

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A sexual discussion, but the conversation is not graphic


Other: None

Running Time: 100 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and up.

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