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 Viral Videos

Famous album covers come alive

18-overlay1

No, your eyes aren't tricking you. The album covers in Roy Kafri's new music video ARE singing along.

in Sports

Vegas police probe complaint against Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin put the ball to his face as he reacts to being called for a foul against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Clippers won 117-101.

Police are investigating a man's allegation that Clippers star Blake Griffin attacked him in a Las Vegas nightclub during the weekend.

in Sports

NBA owners vote down lottery reform

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Silver announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the league in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation.

NBA owners have voted down proposed changes to the league's draft lottery system, staving off efforts to curb tanking for the time being.

in Sports

Nine UNC employees fired or disciplined in scandal

University of North Carolina Chancellor Carol Folt, left, and President Tom Ross prepare to address members of the media with results of an investigation into academic irregularities following a special joint meeting of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.

The probe found that nearly half of the more than 3,100 students enrolled in classes they didn't have to show up for, were athletes.

in Sports

World Series game 2

FILE - At left, in an Oct. 12, 2014, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Jake Peavy throws during the second inning in Game 2 of the National League baseball championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis. At right, in a July 20, 2014, file photo, Kansas City Royals' Yordano Ventura pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston. The Giants try to take a 2-0 lead in the World Series when Jake Peavy starts against Kansas City rookie Yordano Ventura, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.

Game 2 of the World Series is tonight on KPUG as Jake Peavy goes to the hill for the Giants with Yordano Ventura going for the Royals.

Bellingham Traffic