The Music Never Stopped

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Music Never Stopped Movie Poster Image
Music brings family back together in moving drama.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.


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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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.
Adult Written byLellen March 20, 2011
Absolutely loved it. Can't stop thinking about it.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Themes & Topics

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