Another pandemic weekend, another chance to release a movie on to streaming services to try and keep some normalcy alive. This weekend, a movie that snuck up on me until about the beginning of May arrives to your rental pleasure. It’s a film with potential drama, comedy, and music, as a potential gaze through the window of stardom tries to make itself relevant in the modern day. Robbie K here to assess the quality of the latest movie to home release as we look over:
Movie: The High Note (2020)
Portrayal of the Music Industry
Some Comedic Moments
Kelvin Harrison Jr’s moments
Much Different Atmosphere of the Movie
Glorifying Shallow Behavior
Predictable For Much Of the Film
Bad Pacing Of The film
Throw Away Characters
The Lack Of Direction Leading to Missed potential.
When it comes to portraying Hollywood, movies sometimes go too much magic and not enough reality leading to extreme views of the entertainment business. I’d say from my studies and talking with friends who have professionally sang, this movie has it’s fingers on the pulse of the difficulties of the music world. The High Note shows all the red tape, connections, and fickle shifts that can happen in building and maintaining one’s career. In essence, this is the underlying tale to connect much of the early part of the movie and was the factor keeping me engaged into the film despite all the drama at hand. To help break up the monotony there are some romantic parts, but the comedy was the more engaging part to liven up the movie with Ice Cube’s part being the main chuckle fest in his delivery and timing, though his scenes did get a little old after some time. Instead the actor who really saved much of this movie for me was Harrison Jr’s role, the young man bringing a combination of acting and singing that will be those flash in the pan moments that will renew your attention and potentially inspire you to care about one of the characters. Harrison’s scenes often held the most dynamic moments in all of the film, again expanding on rather shallow characters and adding the pizazz to the music industry movie. He especially comes to life about half way and near the end of the film, which helps me transition into the next like of how the ending manages to tie stuff together with a little bit of surprise to help add some band, which given the start of this movie is definitely needed. The ending finally starts making sense of the direction the film is going, and hits with those final emotional punches and gimmicks that left me satisfied and somewhat impressed given most of the movie I watched. However, the biggest clap for me is the portrayal of music and the brilliant pokes this film does at the trends created over the decades. The High Note is an homage, and almost a study, of the power of music, helping poetically dissect impact of songs, show the motivational power of the tracks, and even how tastes very for the sake of safety and commercialism. Covers and plays of the original tracks await the ears of the viewers, but for me the original work holds a lot more heart and emotion to potentially lead to soundtrack sales in the near future.
Now those were the likes that I had to stretch out, but this movie definitely has a lot of shortcomings that I personally did not enjoy. For starts much of the movie is disjoined, nearly the first 45 minutes a finger-painting mess of plots and genres that turn grey instead of a fabulous spectrum of colors. Curiosity kept me going, but one again directors and writers seemed to try to cater to too many gimmicks to make a cohesive opening. From viewing the trailers I expected this film to be a drama of pressures of assistant/music life that developed into a buddy movie, but that was only a sliver of the complicated weavings this group chose. The change in atmosphere was not to my liking mostly because the atmosphere was not smooth, the chaos again just not working given my expectations I walked in with. Of course, the shallow behaviors of greed, cheap laughs, and elaborate fashions await this film too, and while it works so well for painting the celebrity/high roller life, it at times also becomes too much the focus of the film. Lost in this setting, dialogue suffers, character development becomes lazier, and the forced insertion of a track gets a bit stale, especially when the diva/bad behavior gets in the way of the messages and power the film I think was aiming for. While the political aspects are fortunately kept on a short leash, when they rear their head it’s bit in your face, not so much annoying, but again derailing the fluidity of the scene before me for what would be foreshadowing for an already predictable plot. I think most of these errors could have had more slack by me, but they are magnified by the very slow pace this movie takes. Yes, I know I like faster paced genres, but this film’s dragging out, bloated run time with no direction was an uphill battle I waded through, only finding it’s pace nearly 50% of the way into the film where that monotony started going away. Yet even the second half cannot correct the throw away characters this film holds, which outside maybe four of them, plague this film’s writing. Rival stars, self-centered best friends, loyal roommates, and even agents are secondary messes that play their part and nothing more, with many reduced to simple one-liners. Little character development and integration makes this cast feel sort of mashed together, potential plot elements and feeling heavy anchors dropped to sink into the shallow dismay of a mention and nothing more. Hopefully this review highlights that the film did have a lot of nifty ideas and potential paths for developing a struggling woman in a very chaotic field, but to repeat once more that lack of direction tears much of it to shreds with only the last 30 minutes present to tie it altogether and end with the things I sought out in this movie.
The modern age of movie writing seems to have a lot of agendas, changes, and catering pushed in favor of cohesive plots. High Note hints at the potential it could have brought with the realistic dives into the entertainment world, the talent of some of its actors, and the awesome music that brings the biggest punches in this drama/music special. Sadly, it is the lack of direction mixed with too many aspects that really destroys this film for much of the 2-hour run time. With throw away character, shoddy plot development, and bad pacing with an already unfocused story, you will not get the full bang for the twenty-dollar rental in this reviewers eyes. As such, this is a big wait for watching at home via streaming, and one should instead find the soundtrack and enjoy the numbers this group brought to play. Overall, the movie gets the scores of:
Movie Overall: 4.0