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The Music Never Stopped

The Music Never Stopped

Movie
Director(s): 
Genre: 
In Theatres: 
Apr 08, 2011
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
105 min.
BOTTOM LINE:

Seeming slightly out of place in theaters, The Music Never Stopped is a made-for-TV special that happens to feature some career defining roles for both Pucci and Simmons.

 Music is something that keeps us all sane. It allows 3 minutes and 25 seconds to last a lifetime an album to become a precious artifact for some listeners. Some people even associate music with memories to properly remember a moment with the soundtrack it was originally accompanied with. We all do it, even if we aren't aware. And no one was more aware of it than Gabriel Sawyer.

In The Music Never Stopped, Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci) has all he could ask for. Materialistically, that is. Regardless of a loving home and a plethora of friends, Gabriel has hit the age of rebellion and spends his time protesting against the wrong that America has caused during the numerous drafts in the late 60's. Ashamed of who Gabriel has become, Henry Sawyer (the powerful J.K Simmons) kicks his son out and loses contact with his only child. 20 years go by until Henry and Helen (Cara Seymour) hear from their son. From the hospital. Gabriel has suffered a rather large brain tumor that has rendered him with severe memory loss. In fact, Gabriel doesn't remember anything but the people who he has previously had a strong connection with. That is, until Dr. Dianne Daley (Julia Ormond) gets a call from Henry, hoping she can help his son make a connection through the power of music. Once Dr. Daley plays a song that has strong meaning to Gabriel, he becomes enthralled in the memory he most associates the song with. He stands up, runs around, clearly speaks of what all he did and has done since Henry last saw him. With the chance to finally connect with his son, Henry becomes desperate to find any and every song that has a deep meaning to Gabriel. Even if it means he must travel with his son to see The Grateful Dead perform live. 

Based off of an essay titled "The Last Hippie", The Music Never Stopped is a deeply emotional drama right down to the core. With humor riddled in, Director Jim Kohlberg doesn't let the audience forget what exactly is being told in his film. And ultimately, that's what weighs the film down the most: Drama. The story and reactions that fill the runtime feel similar to something that would be found on televisions that pride themselves in bringing together families (I.E Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC Family). And in no way is this a flaw of the film. The drama is interesting and excellent. However, the story is told in such a small scale that one can't help but wonder how The Music Never Stopped slipped past a primetime slot on a Sunday scheduling on The Hallmark Channel. Even with the severely dramatic play-out, The Music Never Stopped has found it's saving grace in the powerful combination of J.K Simmons and Lou Taylor Pucci. 

J.K Simmons isn't a stranger to the big screen. With The Lady Killers, Juno and Spiderman 1, 2 & 3 under his belt, Simmons is a man of both humor and character-acting. Time and time again, Simmons grabs hold of the character and won't let go until those credits roll. A lesser known actor, Lou Taylor Pucci is the most unrecognizable face here as his roster contains mostly indie films with very little to zero theater runs. But if any role was to help boost his career, it would be the role of the trippy Gabriel Sawyer. Much like Gabriel's vintage phonograph, Pucci never misses a beat and hits every groove that defines exactly who Gabriel has become in the 20 years that he has been on his own. While Pucci delivers an excellent portrayal of a man with fading memories, Simmons allows Pucci breathing room to make this film his own. The best feature of The Music Never Stopped is Simmons' acceptance of letting Pucci shine on his own. In most cases, this role would be played by a Jodie Foster-esque actor who would demand attention in some scene involving the lines "HE'S MY SON AND I'M OVERCOMING OBSTACLES TO MAKE SURE HE IS HAPPY BECAUSE I'M THAT SELFLESS"**. Thankfully, Simmons avoids this stereotype and conquers as a father who finally sees his son as the man he has become. The powerful connection between these two actors is what keeps the films' pace running smoothly with minor snags along the way. 

Seeming slightly out of place in theaters, The Music Never Stopped is a made-for-TV special that happens to feature some career defining roles for both Pucci and Simmons. So grab your children, a record player and your favorite records and start making some memories with the ones you love while you can. 

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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