August Rush [DVD]

By Clint Morris

The only thing fuzzier than Robin Williams’ arms is the reasoning behind some of the decisions he makes. Last week, I was watching a documentary on Williams’ entertaining early 90s comedy “Mrs Doubtfire” in which the star, and director Chris Columbus, begun talking about the prospect of a sequel (which, if I recall correctly, Bonnie Hunt was said to be writing at one stage) to the hit film. According to Williams, who seemed very reluctant to step back into the role of the cross-dressing nanny, he’d only do it if it had a killer script. There has to be a ‘reason to do it’, he said.

Obviously Williams was wearing his smart cap the day the doco was recorded because usually he’ll dive head first into anything – killer script or no killer script, reason or no reason. If you pay him, he will come – the cornfields whisper.

Proof? “August Rush” – the latest in a long line of ‘Why?’ efforts from the one-time king of comedy.

Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a musical? And why is Williams’ dressed as Bono from U2? Sadly, I can’t help you out there – and I’m betting Mork from Ork can’t either. Seems our furry friend signs for anything a little off-kilter these days, when he probably should be signing up for a few more ‘sure-things’ (yes, like “Mrs Doubtfire 2”), and merely answers to the bank teller.

In “August Rush”, Freddie Highmore (he’s the youngest British actor that seems to be everywhere at the moment – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Finding Neverland”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles” – to the point where he’s actually becoming annoying!) plays a young orphan who heads into New York in search of his real parents – who he knows are musicians. Of course, neither mum (Keri Russell) or Dad (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) even talk to each other anymore, let anyone know they’re parents – her father tricked her into believing she lost the baby after a fall – so it’s not going to be easy for them all to reunite. Or is it? The film makes it look pretty simple. The ending made me want to bring up that morning’s McDonald’s it was so cheesy and unrealistic. Williams plays a crazy old sod who uses the homeless boys he knows to make money – they basically busk on the streets for him and he lives off their takings.

Williams’ took a big gamble when he played the kind psychologist in “Good Will Hunting” (1997) but that was over a decade ago and ever since it seems Williams is determined to remind us that he’s not, well, Mrs Doubtfire anymore but an Oscar Winning artiste that’s capable of playing anyone in anything. And he might have succeeded in convincing us of that – he played a scary old fart in “One Hour Photo”, a psychopathic killer in “Insomnia”, an unlikely president in “Man of the Year” and so on and so on – but when is enough-enough? Seeing Robin Williams in all these mediocre drama’s and thriller’s is like watching Mike Myers act his way through a Merchant-Ivory production – it’s not just intolerable, it’s ridiculous.

Maybe if “August Rush” had been a good drama – or musical … or whatever the heck it’s supposed to be! – and not a dull and disheveled head-scratcher that’s impossible to become engrossed in (none if it rings true!), you could forgive Williams for caving in and accepting the ‘second fiddle’ role as the pimp of the homeless – it could have been a good part. But it’s not. Ditch this like Williams ditched the “Mrs Doubtfire” sequel.

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