You can tell that the Oscars are almost upon us when you walk out of a screening wanting to grab Robin Williams by the scruff of the neck and yell at him in an attempt to get him to stop making sentimental tosh like this. Fortunately, his appearance here is brief and although the film itself outstays its welcome by a good half an hour, it does have its moments of sickly sweet charm — which, depending on your disposition at the time, could well be the ticket on a rainy afternoon.
Growing up in a particularly comfy orphanage, a young boy is convinced he can hear his parents all around him in the form of music. Twelve years earlier, talented cellist Lyla (the perky Keri Russell) and up and coming rock star Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) have one night of passion before they were driven apart by fate. Unaware her child has survived a car accident, Lyla retires to become a school teacher just as Louis gives up his band and moves to San Francisco unable to forget that one night. Determined to find his parents the boy finds himself in New York under the stewardship of streetwise hustler Wizard (Williams) who recognises his unique musical talents. Indeed the child is quickly identified as a prodigy and commissioned to play a concert in Central Park. As Wizard tries to keep the boys identity a secret to try and make a fast buck, a desperate Lyla is told her son is still alive and sets off to find him, whilst Louis tries to find his one true love.
God it even sounds saccharine sweet, despite my attempts to raise a few cheap laughs. August is played convincingly by Freddie Highmore and it is he who will keep you watching if you can stomach it. Russell has shown a lot of promise recently and I doubt this will harm her in anyway, and only Williams (more of him later) and Howard will be wondering why they signed up for this given their underwritten roles. Williams is of course chucking in the sort of performance that has seen him garner a few too many Oscar nominations, and even though his character is the only thing that could potentially ruin the happy ending you can foresee he’s never really that bad. Although fairplay he never undergoes a conversion of biblical proportions, he does have to deliver some truly awful dialogue as penance.
There are coincidences and plotholes a plenty, but given that this isn’t the worst film out this week (far from it) and that there will be an audience for this somewhere (even if it is weekday Channel Five material at best) the DVD might be an option if you are desperate to see it.