The Music Never Stopped follows the story of Henry Sawyer (J.K. Simmons) trying to connect with his brain damaged son, Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci). Twenty years after running away, Gabriel’s parents find him in a hospital with a brain tumor that is preventing him from forming any new memories. After struggling to get Gabriel to respond to anything, he requests some help from Dianne Daley (Julia Ormond) who is doing experiments on music and memory. Through Gabriel’s favorite music, they are able to temporarily reach him and bring back the man he used to be. Doesn’t that sound depressing? I was dreading this film because I’m not a fan of tear-jerkers or movies that intentionally go straight for the heartstrings. Strangely enough, The Music Never Stopped kept away from being overly sad or dreary. It had a very upbeat tempo, charming dialogue and fantastic music.
Based on the essay, “The Last Hippie” by Dr. Oliver Sacks, The Music Never Stops shares a lot of traits with Sacks’ previous works. Particularly, his novel “Awakenings” and it’s film companion. The Music Never Stops and Awakenings are very similar, both focused on mentally bringing back people that are incapacitated in one way or another. Now, I’m not bringing this up as a bad thing. I’m just saying that if you’ve seen Awakenings, you should know what to expect from The Music Never Stops. The biggest difference between the two, in my mind, is that The Music Never Stops doesn’t make me want to cry like a little girl.
While the movie is technically about Lou Taylor Pucci’s character, Simmons completely stole the show. In my opinion, this is one of his best performances to date. He is able to portray that harsh, overbearing father, but still transform those emotions into regret, hope and love. Pucci really did a surprisingly good job in this movie. I’d never really seen Pucci in anything, but I think that ended up being a positive factor. I wasn’t looking at some big name playing a character, instead I was able to see him and the character as one. The supporting roles seemed to fade out a bit, with such a strong focus on Simmons and Pucci. Don’t think that means that they didn’t contribute greatly to the film, though. Cara Seymour (An Education, American Psycho) played Gabriel’s mother, Helen. Helen takes on a job to help pay for the bills, which took away quite a bit of screen time for her. Still, she was able to have one of the more powerful roles in the film.
Expect to hear all of the classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead. Seriously, your Dad is going to rock out to this movie. The Music Never Stopped has a great soundtrack to it and this film is a perfect example of how to use music in a movie. They make the music into a vital character, really pushing the plot along. This is one soundtrack you may want to pick up. If you like classic rock, you’ll love listening to this movie.
Now, this film is not without it’s flaws. Really, my main problems with this movie are based in the script. First of all, there are several moments that are pretty cheesy. Not to say that those parts were executed poorly, but the script forced the actors into a sort of “Lifetime Movie” scenario. We all know that it is very easy to get tired of scenes with endearing smiles, rainbows and puppies. The Music Never Stopped keeps it to a minimum, but it is still a factor. Secondly, Lou Pucci has several one-liners that he zings out. These lines usually have to do with the fact that he has a brain tumor; they’re meant to be cute and quirky, but there were so many of them! Once or twice would’ve been passable, but there were a few too many for my taste.
Overall, The Music Never Stopped was a pleasant surprise. Even though it has some cheesy moments, it more than makes up for that with a great soundtrack, great performances and a bucketload of charm. I hope that more people get out to see this, because it seems like it might fly under the radar of most people. While some might think it’s hokey, I think that it had some genuine heartfelt emotions behind it. So, get your family together and give this movie a chance.
I give The Music Never Stopped 4 “Crazed Bong Guys” out of 5