Film

Music Within

by

There’s no disputing the sincerity with which Steven Sawalich tells the true-life tale of Richard Pimentel, the man more or less behind the Americans with Disabilities Act. His is, without question, a story worth telling: Cocky kid thinks he’ll make a great motivational speaker, professor tells him he’s “full of shit” and needs to go live a little, kid goes to Vietnam and nearly dies a lot, then returns home all but deaf—the whole world sounds like it’s underwater and populated by a billion whistles being blown at once. And Ron Livingston, deadpan batshit in Office Space and stoically heroic in Band of Brothers, is the perfect dude for the role; you want to believe in him. But a little earnestness goes a long way, and Music Within has a little too much of it, down to the casting of Michael Sheen (The Queen‘s Tony Blair) as the wheelchair-bound savant with cerebral palsy who acts as Richard’s muse and conscience. Sheen, like the movie itself, is trying too hard to inspire when the story doesn’t need the help.