Music; Sia’s Film Career Came and Went. Grade: D-
Golden Globe nominated film Music, is about an autistic girl named Music (Maddie Ziegler) whom recently loss her grandmother as she dropped dead during an afternoon. Have no fear: Troubled recovering alcoholic/drug dealer Zu (Kate Hudson) is here to save the day and partially look after her. Zu hopes to one day to live in paradise in Costa Rica, to be by the beach and teach Yoga... Alright?! Witness a feel good tale, in which Music will help Zu be much more open with her heart to be a much more happy and loving person, as their bond will better one another... As so it goes.
I guess I'll start with some positives. Some of the original soundtrack music from Sia was honestly sometimes enjoyable. Yeah we'll discuss the weird music video montages, but some of the songs were actually good. I think Kate Hudson performance wise was fine, it wasn't by no means Golden Globe nominated at all, but I guess she played a alright troubled drug dealer recovering alcoholic. Lastly: I liked Leslie Odom Jr. in this film as far as performance, he did a nice job with the accent as he tried.
There have been many reactions by me since it was announced that Music would be nominated for Best Film for a Comedy/Musical. At first I was looking forward to it, as I wanted to see what exactly could Sia can do as a film maker. Then I checked on Letterboxd as everyone was trashing it before it was released.... Seriously it was at a 1.1 star before the release, I mean that's not good?! It also can't be good that Sia, the person behind this film had to publicly apologize for making this film, after it received a couple nominations.Then I watched the trailer and then I saw Maddie's portrayal of an autistic person, as I then understood exactly why everyone was pissed off. But I still went in with slight hope, thinking this movie can't be that bad, how bad could it possibly be?! As the opening dance montage occurs... My jaw was wide open, as I couldn't believe my eyes.
Let's get Maddie Ziegler's performance out of the way now, so we can take on the many issues this film has. I'm not going to shame Maddie for this performance, despite how troubling it is. You can tell Maddie wanted to play an accurate portrayal of one with autism, some mannerisms do follow someone of this condition. Sure people with autism do struggle and have behavioral issues, however a good majority of them actually have a personality, can comprehend to their surrounding just fine, and are not entirely brain dead like the film precepts them to be. Take the really good comedy TV show Atypical, about a autistic teenager Sam (Kier Gilchrist) who loves Penguins. The show shows how Sam struggles with autism as it brings awareness to the audience of one of his condition, however the show does a really good job in bringing a personality to the character, making him feel like a real person. It doesn't showcase autism as being an extremely bad thing wanting only sympathy, it showcase just how special and unique people like Sam are, as it really helps viewers understand him and how they can interact with them as they know they're just like anybody else.
But with Music... It only highlights autism as a pure disease, as it really only highlights her being this extremely useless person, with no personality, as she's only a burden on everyone. I understand the music video montages is suppose to be how beautiful Music's mind is, as that was what Sia intended it to be... However why can't she be gifted on the outside rather than just the inside?! The entire time when Music is in the real world, all she does is have problems as she whines and hits herself in the head, as she's only a burden on everyone. Why can't people enjoy Music without having them rip their head off taking care of her?! What Sia fails to understand is she didn't create Music as a character, she just creates her as a disease only, as it's extremely insulting, disgusting, and even embarrassing to everyone in not only those who struggle with autism, but everyone in the special needs community. Maddie's performance compares to the likes of Ben Stiller's fake performance in Simple Jack during the duration of Tropic Thunder. The difference is not only was that a fake movie, it also delivers a solid message on actors/actresses that try to capitalize on playing someone with mental issues, that can go overboard simply on achieving self accomplishments which makes themselves look bad and can be offensive on many levels. Here with Maddie and Music... This is actually a real movie, that is actually trying... 13 years later and Tropic Thunder nailed it, damn!
I blame it more on Sia for her direction on this performance than Maddie, Maddie was given a task for this role, as in ways she does succeed on what she is asked. It's just with lack of empathy in the direction and most certainly lack of depth in character/personality wise... Every time Music is on screen, it makes the film worse. I hope Maddie Ziegler's career isn't over after this performance, I think all can be forgiven, it's more of a direction issue if anything Maddie tried, she just took it WAY too far.
Music is not just terrible just because of the disgusting portrayal of autism on screen: It's all around terrible. I really hate how this film doesn't actually visually speaking look like a real movie, it just feels like a feature long Sia music video from a visual standpoint. If you ever watch a Sia music video, the framing is tight around a rectangular box, as the lights are dimmed as it looks extremely unnatural as a feature length film.
There are many issues surrounding the characters. I think the only thing that honestly works within the characters, is Zu and Ebo (Leslie Odom Jr.). Briefly both of these characters work fine off each other, as they help themselves get over their current struggles. Maybe if Music was entirely cut off and it just featured Zu and Ebo... I can see an average story. Zu as a character is honestly bland, even with the Ebo connection it's bland because it's not entirely focused on that connection alone, it's "trying" to develop a connection with Music and also have Zu partake in this ridiculous side plot. Zu at the end says Music taught her how to love again... Where?! The entire time it feels like Zu just babysits Music, as they don't establish anything together, there really is no genuine joy between the two at all. It almost feels like Zu is her servant in a way, as she orders Zu to make eggs and get her a snow-cone. How this film wants us to believe there is a reestablishing sister bond is honestly nonexistent, no one benefits off from one another at all, unless it's Music getting a snow-cone now in her routine. Let's talk about the drug dealing side plot... This is just fucking stupid. Zu owes this drug lord money, as this drug lord keeps handing her more drugs, hoping to create a big sale as she may get it from Sia... I just can't comprehend how stupid it is honestly. Especially how it ends... Drug lords don't act like that, aren’t as forgiving, nor do they look as ridiculous as Ben Schwartz does in cornrows... Was Sia on drugs herself making this?!
Same goes with Ebo as a character. The thing that works with Ebo other than the connection he's developing with Zu, is also the side plot of him accepting his brother marrying the love of his life. It's a hard thing for Ebo to endure, as he's trying to have it all forgiven and forgotten. But there is also a side plot, consisting of Ebo needing medication to survive and there is brief moments that he's dealing with an illness.... It just comes and goes randomly, as you want to question what the hell is that all about?! If you got rid of it entirely nothing would actually change, other than the fact you question when exactly is that side plot going to appear again?! The film ends as we come to question "Wait, what happened to Ebo and his disease/medication ordeal?!" The film should’ve brought more development of Ebo coming to terms with his brother marrying the love of his life, not wasting time on a nonexistent side plot that goes NOWHERE!
Speaking of random side plot: Felix (Beto Calvillo)... Oh brother this guy. So Felix comes on and about, as he helps Music with her routine of watching over her, making sure she gets home safe. He just comes out about random, but wait... THERE'S MORE. Felix is also a big tough boxer, as he must honor his family in becoming a great boxer. But get this? Felix has a secret: He doesn't want to be boxer, he wants to be a dancer. This entire side plot of Felix over coming the challenges of standing up for himself to his family... Maybe the most pointless thing in this entire film. Who is this character? Why should I care about this character and his dilemma?! What transpires after and what gives Music as a present... What the hell was that all about!?! Felix is suppose to deliver a heart warming message, to be yourself, to choose love over fighting which is fine... BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON?!?!??!?! Don't add a character or a side plot that creates no value to the story or helps the plot, it's just baffling to sit through as I laughed at what happens during the confrontation scene.
The music video montages... Why?! I get it suppose to be Music's mind, but what is their purpose in the story?! It doesn't help make me understand Music or help the plot along, it honestly feels like Sia is showing the world how conceded she is. "Look at me everyone, aren't I talented?! I make music everyone! I'm a visionary, as you can clearly see from my visuals and costumes. I'm so rad and awesome, look at ME!" That's all I gotten out of every single music video montage this film had, it also doesn't help that Music looks more insulting in all of them, when it suppose to make the audience feel happy and joyful.
The story... It's one gigantic mess. Way too many side plots not needed, too many telling us rather than developing and showing us moments. Honestly the plot basically gives up on itself in the third act, as they rushed everything as they just told the audience what exactly happened during the couple minute montage, rather than developing it. I guess we're going to talk about how Zu almost put Music in an institution, as she can no longer deal with Music... What's the point?! They just sat down on her bed, hold hands, as Zu decides "You know what?! I can now do this, because you Music... You taught me how to love, I will now take care of you." What was suppose to make us feel extremely happy and inspired Zu is becoming responsible, turns out to be another baffling random moment, that holds absolutely no value, also given the fact the montage more than likely ran off many days in her process. I really don't understand what exactly was Sia thinking when making this film. Sure she may have had intentions of doing something good while creating a bold debut, touching on a sensitive subject... But all I saw was a self centered artist, who thinks everything is about them. While also seeing one who can't construct a plot that works or doesn't understand the subject matter she's touching on... It's just an embarrassment all around for her, as this could cost Sia her legacy and even respect from people. I don't know what anyone was thinking when partaking in this film honestly, it was a disaster waiting to happen, as this is going to turn out as one of the most hated films of our time.
Overall, Music is horrible film. I don't recommend this film at all. Hollywood Foreign Press... You all should be ashamed of yourselves nominating this film for any award, when you have so many better comedy films, including of course The Climb which is better than every film nominated in that category by far. Oh well look at the bright side?! I saved about a few bucks, as instead of watching this film at a theater 18 miles away, I saw it cheaper and RedBox gave me a discount code... At least there’s that. -Mitch Smietana