The Music Never Stopped



Music brings family back together in moving drama.
  • Review Date: March 16, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie has strong positive take-aways, including: A loving bond once formed between a father and son can surmount even the most difficult situations. Open-mindedness leads to acceptance -- or at least understanding -- of others' values. And when dealing with a devastating illness or condition, it's worthwhile to explore new and innovative treatments.

Positive role models

A well-intentioned father who has been shown as headstrong, rigid, and controlling makes a concerted effort to see his son's point of view and serves as an example to other parents. Health care professionals are portrayed as diligent, open-minded, and caring.

Not applicable

A guarded reference to a first sexual experience; some warm embraces.


Infrequent cursing includes one use each of "a--hole,"  "oh s--t," "go to hell," and "goddamn."


A commercial for Coca-Cola is used as a story point, when the brain-damaged young man remembers the slogan. Several 1960s record labels are visible.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A couple of references to being "stoned" and possible past drug use. In flashbacks to 1960s, characters -- including teens -- are seen smoking. A couple drinks wine with dinner.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even though this drama about the difficult relationship between a father who still carries anger from the past and a son who suffers from a debilitating neurological condition is rated PG, it's more likely to interest mature teens and adults than younger kids. That said, there's not too much iffy stuff to worry about: sparing use of a few swear words ("a--hole," "s--t," "damn"), a guarded reference to a first sexual experience, some flirting and embracing, etc. There are references to being "stoned" and possible drug use, but nothing is shown. In scenes that flash back to the 1960s, there's some cigarette smoking, teens included.

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

It's 1986, almost 20 years after 18-year-old Gabriel Sawyer (Lou Taylor Pucci) left his parents' home in anger. Henry and Helen Sawyer (J.K. Simmons and Cara Seymour) are summoned to a hospital, where they find their only son nearly catatonic after the removal of a benign brain tumor. Much of Gabriel's memory is gone; he's also suffering from extreme depression and is barely functional. Still hurting from their long estrangement -- which was tied up in bitter feelings about the politics and music of the 1960s (shown in numerous flashbacks) -- Henry determines to find a way to help his son. He turns to music therapy, an innovative form of treatment. Working with a caring therapist (Julia Ormond) and the music that Gabriel loved -- The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles -- they hope to unlock the young man's memory and bring him back to life.

Is it any good?


Solid performances -- especially by Simmons, who finally gets a leading role after decades of wonderful supporting parts -- along with the driving music of iconic '60s artists help this earnest film overcome a clearly modest budget and some cliche-ridden situations. It's based on a true story from an essay by Oliver Sacks, the renowned neurologist responsible for the events portrayed in Awakenings, another film about breakthroughs in the world of brain disease and injury. It's not perfect, but THE MUSIC NEVER STOPS is a heartfelt and admirable drama.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about times when relationships between parents and kids are strained. What are some ways that your family deals with big issues and conflicts?

  • Music changes from generation to generation and often causes a "culture clash" between kids and their parents. How did Henry finally learn to appreciate the music Gabriel loved? Kids: Is it important to you that your parents enjoy the music you listen to?

  • Do you consider the characters in the movie to be role models? Is Henry a good father?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 18, 2011
DVD release date:August 2, 2011
Cast:J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Lou Taylor Pucci
Director:Jim Kohlberg
Studio:Essential Pictures
Topics:History, Music and sing-along
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, some mild drug references, language and smoking

This review of The Music Never Stopped was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byLellen March 20, 2011
Absolutely loved it. Can't stop thinking about it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 12 year old Written bycolten97 May 12, 2011
An involving, if sentimental and predictable family drama is elevated by J.K. Simmons' sympathetic lead performance.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models


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