You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Music Within

"Music Within," the decidedly '70s-flavored story of Richard Pimentel, the motivational speaker and writer who helped pass the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, convincingly delivers the message that disabilities are everyone's concern.

Richard Pimentel - Ron Livingston Christine - Melissa George Art Honeyman - Michael Sheen Mike Stoltz - Yul Vazquez Mom - Rebecca De Mornay Ben Padrow - Hector Elizondo

“Music Within,” the decidedly ‘70s-flavored story of Richard Pimentel, the motivational speaker and writer who helped pass the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, convincingly delivers the message that disabilities are everyone’s concern. Helmed by Steve Sawalich, this real-life dramedy is anchored by Michael Sheen’s captivating performance as the severely handicapped, profoundly acerbic Art Honeyman. Commercial response should be modest but passionate.

A bit soft around the edges — Ron Livingston as Pimentel is a sympathetic but puppyish leading man — the picture wastes no time making its point: Richard is more or less victimized at birth by what can be described as betrayal by the human body and mind: His mother (Rebecca De Mornay) has suffered seven miscarriages by the time he’s born, and the effect is to send her into a disturbed mental state that dictates the course of Richard’s childhood.

As a young man, Richard discovers a talent for public speaking, but when he auditions for “College Bowl” founder Dr. Ben Padrow (an imperious Hector Elizondo), he’s told in no uncertain terms that he needs to have a life before he can convince others of his point of view. Richard thinks he’s had a life. But he joins the Army, goes to Vietnam and, during a shelling of his platoon, loses his hearing.

Accompanied by some very deliberately programmed and too obvious period music — including the unwelcome bleatings of Three Dog Night, America and the Youngbloods — Richard returns to college, where he meets Art (Sheen), a wheelchair-bound, beret-wearing verbal bomb-thrower, who is wracked by cerebral palsy but harbors a caustic wit and a hilarious gift for obscenity. Ironically, Richard’s deafness allows to him understand Art, so a social movement of two is born, as they get kicked out of restaurants, endure the contemptuous glances of passersby and are generally ostracized by a public horrified or disgusted by Art’s writhing incoherence.

“Music Within” is less than subtle about the way people were treated before and after the Disabilities Act, and depending on one’s tolerance for overstatement, the film might tread a bit heavily on the moral outrage. But Sheen (best known for playing Tony Blair in “The Queen” and David Frost in “Frost/Nixon”) is remarkable — one of the film’s stratagems is that Art is made understandable through Richard’s eyes and damaged ears, but a garble otherwise. So Sheen is really required to give two technically difficult performances. He’s utterly convincing, and the humanity he brings to the part only helps drive home the film’s social issues.

Script by Brett McKinney, Mark Andrew Olsen and Kelly Kennemer is good, but just sort of cobbles together a romantic subplot, between Richard and beautiful free-love advocate Christine (Melissa George), who fail to find a meeting ground for their mutual affection. In a smaller but essential role, Yul Vazquez turns Mike Stoltz, one of Richard’s fellow vets, into an intemperate alcoholic firebrand. After Sheen, Vasquez is the best thing in the film.

Production values are adequate, but “Music Within” was always a film that was going to rely on heart rather than craft.

Music Within

Production: An MGM release of an Articulus Entertainment and Quorum Entertainment production. Produced by Brett Donowho, Steven Sawalich. Co-producer, Ron Livingston. Directed by Steven Sawalich. Screenplay, Brett McKinney, Mark Andrew Olsen, Kelly Kennemer.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Irek Hartowicz; editor, Tim Alverson; music, James T. Sale; music supervisor, Debra Braun; production designer, Craig Stearns; set decorator, Sean Kennedy; costume designer, Alexis Scott; sound (Dolby Digital), Peter Rand; sound designer, Jeff Whitcher; stunt coordinator, Jerry Buxbaum; associate producer, Frank Vitolo; assistant directors, Craig Borden, Shawn Dyrdahl; second unit director, Brett Donowho; second unit camera, George Billinger; casting, Amy McIntyre Britt, Anya Colloff, Corbin Bronson. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Oct. 21, 2007. (In Santa Barbara Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN.

With: Richard Pimentel - Ron Livingston Christine - Melissa George Art Honeyman - Michael Sheen Mike Stoltz - Yul Vazquez Mom - Rebecca De Mornay Ben Padrow - Hector Elizondo

More Film

  • Too Old to Die Young

    Cannes: 2019 Lineup Includes Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodóvar, Four Films by Women

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival unveiled its lineup, boosting the number of female filmmakers in official selection to 13 — four of which will compete for the Palme d’Or, the highest number since 2011. Additionally, new movies by Pedro Almodóvar and American directors Terrence Malick and Ira Sachs join Elton John biopic “Rocketman” and the [...]

  • Cannes Unveils 2019 Official Selection (Watch

    Watch Cannes Lineup Announcement (Updating Live)

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival is announcing the films chosen for “official selection” — including those competing for the event’s coveted Palme d’Or prize — in a press conference Thursday starting at 11 a.m. in Paris. The livestream of the press conference is available here. (Please note that the broadcast seldom starts on time.) Last [...]

  • Godzilla

    'Godzilla' Owner Toho Poised for Expansion in Hollywood

    Toho, the largest movie group in Japan, is expanding a subsidiary in the U.S. with a view to working more with Hollywood. The company said that its existing Toho International Inc. subsidiary has been injected with $14 million (JPY15.4 billion), through a share issue subscribed to by the parent company. The subsidiary has existed since [...]

  • View Conference Opens Registration for 2019

    2019 View Conference Opens Registration, Calls for Short Film Competition Entries

    Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the View Conference in Turin, Italy. No speakers have been announced yet, but past conferences have featured some of the world’s top creative talents in visual effects, animation, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Last year’s edition featured composer Hans Zimmer, Paramount Animation topper [...]

  • Former professional boxer Bradley Welsh in

    Bradley Welsh, 'T2 Trainspotting' Actor, Shot Dead in Edinburgh

    Bradley Welsh, an actor in “T2 Trainspotting” and a former boxer, died after being shot in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Wednesday. He was 42. The Edinburgh Police Division reported an incident on Chester Street in Edinburgh’s West End neighborhood around 8 p.m. local time. They found Welsh seriously injured in the street and said he died [...]

  • Jim Gallagher Warner Bros

    Jim Gallagher Joins Warner Bros. as EVP of Marketing, Animation and Family

    Former head of DreamWorks Animation theatrical marketing Jim Gallagher has joined Warner Bros. Pictures in a newly created role as executive vice president of marketing, animation and family, announced today by Blair Rich, president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Gallagher will develop innovative and strategic global campaigns for [...]

  • Timothy Olyphant Luke Perry

    Timothy Olyphant Recalls Working With Luke Perry on 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

    Luke Perry’s last role will be in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and his co-star Timothy Olyphant got a front-row seat to the late actor’s final performance. Perry, who died this March after suffering a massive stroke, had completed all of his scenes in the upcoming film prior to his sudden death. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content