Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover of August Rush is a bit much for me to be honest. You have a great shot of Freddie Highmore playing guitar, but then it has musical notes floating behind him, as well as a shot of the moon, and his movie parents in a loving embrace at the top of the cover. It comes off as a bit cheesy, and the movie already teeters on the edge of being too sickeningly sweet. I would have preferred something a bit more subtle, but instead we get floating musical notes and stars. (I actually like the cover of the music CD for the film more than the DVD cover).
The menu is a nice shot of Freddie Highmore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers sitting the Central Park with acoustic guitars. It is a nice static shot, and since it is one of the better, more touching scenes in the movie, it is a nice menu backdrop.
Besides the very brief additional scenes, there is nothing here to include as an extra. I am honestly a bit shocked that there is no commentary or even and documentary about the film included here. Normally I am not a fan of including mediocre extras just for the sake of having extras, but this is just downright strange. I expect at least a little bit of movie information or fluff, but there isn’t anything here at all. The movie is presented in both widescreen and full-screen versions on different sides of the DVD, but other than that, this is a bare bones release.
August Rush is the tale of Evan Taylor, brilliantly played by Freddie Highmore, who lives in an orphanage in New York. Evan, an 11 year-old, hears music in his head, and wished that he could actually play what is inside of his head. Of course, this causes his mates to ridicule him incessantly, and Evan ends up running away. Evan feels that his gift is from his parents, and he believes that the music inside of him will eventually lead him to his real parents. He finds himself in the big city of New York, letting his music lead him to his parents.
As it turns out, his parents are musicians that briefly meet at a rooftop party in New York City. Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) is a cellist runs into Irish guitar player Louis Connelly (Rhys Meyers). The two spend a romantic night together, that ends up with her being pregnant. Circumstances, and Lyla’s overbearing father, interrupt the romance and cause the couple to split, with Lyla believing that after and accident her baby has died, when actually Lyla’s father puts Evan up for adoption.
Thus begins the journey of Evan, Lyla and Louis trying to find each other, with music as the common thread that will bring them together. Evan runs into another homeless child, Arthur, who plays guitar in Central Park for money. Arthur introduces Evan to Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace, (played by Robin Williams, who in his cowboy hat and earrings looks like an older Bono). Wizard is a virtual music pimp, who takes in homeless kids and gives them shelter while taking part of the money that they pull in as street performers. Wizard is both protective and controlling at the same time, and he seems to teeter on the brink of being creepy and endearing. Williams is great in the role.
Evan soon picks up a guitar himself, and is amazed to find that he has a natural gift. It is obvious that he is too big for the small gigs in the park, and Wizard begins to view Evan as his meal ticket out of the small time. Evan ends up changing his name to August Rush, and he soon is on his journey again to find his parents.
At the same time, Lyla beings searching for her son, after she finds out that he is still alive. She has not played music since the time that she thought her son died, and she begins in earnest a tough struggle to locate him. A social worker named Richard Jeffries (played brilliantly by Terrence Howard) has also been looking for Evan, since he has run away from the orphanage, and the search continues to locate the young boy before something bad happens to him.
Evan’s father also decides that he must locate the love of his life Lyla, and he returns to New York to search for her. As one can expect in a film like this, all things point to happy ending.
August Rush is full of great music, and very good acting performances. I really liked everyone in it, even though I though Keri Russell was a bit too stiff in her role as Lyla (she was amazing in Waitress). The acting really saves the film from being too bland. Overall I thought August Rush was a decent, heartwarming tale of finding out what truly matters and holding on to it. While not great, the movie was itself moving and good.
Video & Audio: 7/10
The video on this standard DVD release was pretty decent. It is sad that I am getting to the point where I can’t think about anything but high definition, and watching any standard DVD leaves me instantly wondering what it could have looked like in high definition. That said, I thought the video was well done, and the scenes were well lit and bright, especially the shots in the daytime in the park.
The audio in August Rush was well done, and I thought the mix of the music versus the dialogue was well done. The DVD is released in 5.1 Surround Sound, and I thought the music sounded crisp and very dynamic, which is needed in a movie about music.
I would suggest renting this film. To me the acting in it was extremely good, and it really saved the film from being mediocre. This is not the best film that I have seen, and not even the best film about music that I have seen in the last year, but it is a heart warming story with characters that I was able to empathize with.
Overall Score 6/10