A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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 and 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: March 18, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2011
- Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Lou Taylor Pucci
- Director: Jim Kohlberg
- Studio: Essential Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, some mild drug references, language and smoking
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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