News

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

REVIEW: Haven’t we seen ‘Begin Again’ ‘Once’ before?

This image released by The Weinstein Company shows Keira Knightley, left, and Adam Levine in a scene from "Begin Again." Photo: Associated Press/The Weinstein Company, Andrew Schwartz

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music | Run Time: 104 min | Rated: R
Director: John Carney | Starring: Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine

By: George Wolf

Okay, let’s talk about Begin Again without mentioning that other movie that it will really remind you of…

Nope, can’t do it.

You’d be tempted to call it “Once for the multi-plex” even if you didn’t know both films come from the same writer/director, John Carney.

In 2006, Carney’s tender, heartfelt treatment made Once a wonderful tale of two musicians in Ireland telling their love story through song. It became an indie hit that won an Oscar and spawned a popular stage musical, but now it seems Carney wants to trade nuance for bigger box office while his new characters disavow musicians who do just that.

He moves the musical setting from the streets of Dublin to the boardrooms of New York, with Mark Ruffalo starring as Dan, a well-known record executive whose career has seen better days. He stumbles into a bar just in time to hear Greta (Keira Knightley) being coaxed onstage to sing an original song,

Dan instantly hears a hit, and wants to record her, but Greta is gun shy. She’s still hurting from her breakup with Dave (Adam Levine), who has left her behind and become a superstar with soulless pop versions of her songs.

Greta agrees to a demo CD but there’s no budget to speak of, so they decide on a musical tour of the city, recording live with a full band at various locations around NYC.

Begin Again is aggressively likable. It’s all about winning you over you with popular actors, constant positivity and pleasant-yet-forgettable songs that are recorded in one take. Knightley even handles her own vocals, and she does just fine.

Of course she does! That’s how fairy tales work!

Look, as feel good movies of the year go, you could do much worse than Begin Again. It’s often charming. But there’s no escaping the irony in the “homemade” nature of Greta’s demo. Carney used similar tactics for Once, and came out a big winner.

Now, like Greta’s ex, Carney has big money behind him, but too little soul in the finished product.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Recent Headlines

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top country tracks

bradpaisley

LISTEN: This week's top country tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Entertainment

WATCH: 10 best ‘Simpsons’ episodes

In this photo released by Fox, Homer explains why he wants to bring back the annual 4th of July fireworks display, after it's cancelled for budget reasons, in the "Yellow Badge of Cowardge" Season Finale episode of "The Simpsons," in May 2014. The full 25-year run of "The Simpsons" will arrive on cable channel FXX with a summer marathon, to be paired this fall with a digital extravaganza that could turn other TV shows yellow with envy. "I'm not going to over-promise, but I think this website will provide you with affordable health care," longtime "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told a TV critics' meeting Monday, July 21, 2014.

The recent marathon of all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons" inspired us to sit down and come up with our 10 favorite episodes. Enjoy!

in Entertainment

Lena Dunham and Kate Mara hit by a falling sign

Lena Dunham, of HBO's "Girls," arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards held at The Nokia Theatre  in Los Angeles.

The "Girls" and "House of Cards" actresses saw stars of their own after an accident at a Venice premiere.

in Lifestyle

Rice replaces ice in India bucket challenge

An Indian school boy eats a midday meal provided free at a government school in Hyderabad, India, Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. India has offered free midday school meals since the 1960s in an effort to persuade poor parents to send their children to school, a program that reaches some 120 million children. The country now plans to subsidize wheat, rice and cereals for some 800 million people under a $20 billion scheme to cut malnutrition and ease poverty.

The famous "ice bucket" challenge is inspiring thousands of Indians to follow suit, but with a twist - they are replacing ice with rice to help the country's hungry people.

in Entertainment

Charges dropped against Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected drug dealer

In this Jan. 19, 2014 photo, Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The GenArt Quaker Good Energy Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote," was found dead Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in his New York apartment. He was 46.

Drug-selling charges against a friend of late film star Philip Seymour Hoffman have been dropped after officers neglected to read the suspect his Miranda rights.