Music of the Heart

Bomb Rating: 

If feel-good were a drug, this film would be a heroin overdose.

Hey, what a concept. It could totally change film as we know it. Audiences stupid enough to insist on seeing films like this would be forced to have an intravenous line inserted into their arm. Then, whenever sappy music was played to catalyze emotion, they'd be administered a dose of heroin. Each time one of those less-fortunate minority kids was successful with the violin, another jolt of heroin would enter the bloodstream. Finally, when the grand finale arrives and the audience stands up and applauds the inspiring efforts of Roberta Guaspari (Meryl Streep) and the participants in her concert to raise money for violin teaching, a tidal wave of heroin would roll into the theater, and an apex of feel-good be achieved.

Unfortunately for me, this whole experience was about spiraling down from the high of my previous state, which had consisted of not being trapped in a theater, contracting diabetes from this movie. Wes Craven's first non-horror effort suggests that he should take up gutting fish if he's that desperate for a hobby. It's one thing to merrily hit every horror film cliché as though you're peeing in the snow -- audiences take that for granted. However, do it in a film about a conflicted white woman teaching adorable minority children music, and suddenly you've produced a different kind of horror.

"Music of the Heart" is little more than a ridiculously manipulative ploy to get people to support arts in education, because the very thought of Roberta not being able to teach those poor Harlem kids to play violin might leave many a glassy-eyed housewife slumped over the steeing wheel of her minivan, weeping. Keep in mind, however, that for every incidence of a Roberta Guaspari, there are ten of Mr. Johnson, my elementary school music teacher who forced me to sing Bible tunes in public school and then attempted to make me eat chalk when I cited the U.S. Constitution in refusal.

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