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 Entertainment

Today in entertainment: March 4

Fresh
john-lennon

A look at the Hollywood headlines of years past.

in Sports

Kentucky still perfect, rallying from 9 down to beat Georgia

From left, Kentucky's Aaron Harrison, Tyler Ulis, and head coach John Calipari pause for a moment during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70.

No. 1 Kentucky overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half to keep its perfect season intact, beating Georgiaon Tuesday night.

in Sports

Report: Eagles send LeSean McCoy to Bills

Philadelphia Eagles' Darren Sproles, left, and LeSean McCoy stretch before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Philadelphia.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Philadelphia Eagles have sent star running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

in Sports

Maid: Hernandez messed with security camera after killing

Glaucia Santos testifies during the murder trial of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez at Bristol County Superior Court Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez is accused of the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd.

A maid who cleaned the home of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez has testified at his murder trial that she saw him "messing with" the security camera in his basement the day after the killing.

in Sports

Eagles release cornerback Cary Williams

Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson, right, and Philadelphia Eagles' Cary Williams meet after an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Philadelphia. Seattle won 24-14.

The Philadelphia Eagles released cornerback Cary Williams. Williams was signed by the Eagles as a free agent in 2013 and started all 32 games over the last two seasons. He had five interceptions.

Bellingham Traffic