From the people who brought you the incomparable Once comes…a very similar and much worse movie. Except this time the personal drama is more convoluted, more irritating, less plausible, and has 100% more Adam Levine, which may not be your thing. It’s not mine.

The story is almost irrelevant, because it’s banal. Record exec has alcohol problem, fall from grace, bad relationship with daughter, meets amazing songwriter who’s about to give up. She, in turn, has been ditched by her rock star boyfriend (but solves the bad daughter relationship problem quick smart!). Fortunately, her friend from back home is inexplicably busking and has an immense amount of recording equipment. So they record an album outside! Epiphanies everywhere! And then Keira Knightley is too authentic to kow-tow to the record people, because what kind of lunatic would ever want to make money out of his talent or passion. It’s almost embarrassing to watch in its pathetic, earnest, pig-headed self-righteousness.

Not one of the actors ever actually inhabits his or her character even a little bit. I learned almost none of their names–it’s just Adam Levine and Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo saying slightly mannered, vacuous pap. Against a backdrop of pretentious acoustic pop songs that are totally indistinguishable from one to the next. These people are cripplingly self-obsessed, and they just spew this self-obsession through the medium of whiny driveling music, in the name of…I’m not sure what.

Stray observations:

  • Adam Levine grows a terrible beard and they make merciless fun of him about it. This might be the best part of the movie, perhaps because James Corden is doing a lot of the talking.
  • All I want is to stop watching movies about man-children. Is this too much to ask?
  • Keira Knightley sings better than you expect, but it’s not great.

Director: John Carney
Rating: R
Length: 104 minutes
Score: 2/5