Sweet, funny, and the music sounds like what the story and characters tell us it sounds like – which few music movies actually manage.
Frank (2014) did it – and this does it too (the difference being that these songs quickly start to sound adult-good, not kid-good). I don’t really need to see another movie about poor Irish kids getting the band together when i’ve already (repeatedly) seen The Commitments (1991) (there’s even a “Commitment-ette” in this), but if it’s done well, why not?
The kids are great (in particular, the rabbit-loving multi-instrumentalist is a comic genius). Some of the editing is a bit rough, especially given the well-planned A/B scene combos showing development: Conor is introduced to new music; Conor & band go to school styled like that band.
Two things keep this good film from being great:
Teenaged Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) seems pretty emotionally balanced for a pubescent kid with such unstable home & school lives; and the film ends up in full fantasy mode, the opposite of The Commitments‘s failure-as-“poetry” thesis. It’s a little disappointing, because my enjoyment of the film up to that point was watching the kids explore music as an antidote to their harsh reality – a reality which seems to evaporate more and more as the film progresses, and without which the music “dream” has no counterpoint, the romance less charm.
And perhaps it’s just my bias as a musician, but to me the real romance of the movie is the songwriting partnership. So it seems a bit of a dick move to abandon your magical band, full of able and visibly invested members (including a manager AND a roadie), most of whom are uniquely talented, complete with “your” demo recordings and not so much as a goodbye or thank you.
Go watch The Commitments (1991). And Frank (2014):