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MOVIE REVIEW: The Music Never Stopped

Best enjoyed by Grateful Dead fans

  • The Music Never Stopped
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • J.K. Simmons as Henry Sawyer in "The Music Never Stopped."
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • A scene from "The Music Never Stopped."
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I love seeing J.K. Simmons in films. (If you missed it, catch the wonderfully underrated Mike Judge movie Extract from a few years ago). Most know J.K. as Juno’s dad, and the tough boss in Spiderman... but what about the great boss in Burn After Reading? In this movie, he plays a somewhat strict dad in the ‘60s. You see them have the normal father/son fights and since it’s the ‘60s, you get the occasional flag burning, gripes about Nixon, and protest episodes that greatly bother dad. J.K. felt the need to quiz his son on music he loved, even to the point where the kid needed to memorize the memories he had with those songs.

They do an interesting thing with some of the flashbacks, where we realize a scene means something different when we hear about it later. One of those has the kid playing Buffalo Springfield in his room when dad is telling him dinner is ready and turn the music down. Later we find out it’s the day his friend got drafted.

Sometimes the music was used perfectly – when we hear Bob Dylan, or the boy playing Kansas City at a local gig because he knows it was his uncles favorite song. Since the boy is a Dead Head (no pun intended), we get a lot of their music.

After a falling out, the father doesn’t see his son for decades, and that’s after he suffers a brain injury that requires the removal of a tumor and part of the brain. It almost gives the kid a form of Alzheimer’s. He has no short term memory, and only a spotty memory of things in the past.

A doctor is brought in that does music therapy. She’s played by Julia Ormond, who always looks radiant on screen. Remember her in the remake of Sabrina?

While The Music Never Stopped was based on the story The Last Hippie, by Dr. Oliver Sacks (he gave us Awakenings), the story was predictable.I didn’t mind some of the lame scenes that would’ve never happened the way they happened. The father calling in to a radio station and answering a Grateful Dead trivia question to win tickets to a sold-out gig; or Ormond just coincidentally playing the French national anthem (La Marseillaise), which is from 1792. The kid gets excited hearing this, but that only lasts for a few seconds. It isn’t until she’s at home doing work, and hears a radio station play The Beatles song All You Need is Love. She realizes the intro is the same, and that this guy thought that was the song that he’d be hearing.

The ending was powerful, and there were a few scenes that were touching; but basically, this seemed like a TV movie from 1978. Perhaps if it was airing on Lifetime, I would be kinder in my review.

I’m giving it a D.