Music Within (2007) Poster


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A Gem of a Film - One of the year's Best
When you have been watching movies for over 30 years and you come across a gem like Music Within, it keeps you coming back for more. This true story (The subject of the film Richard Pimentel verified the historical accuracy at the Dallas Film Festival screening) is both heartfelt, informative and laced sensitively with humor and insightful one liners. I had the privilege of seeing this at the Dallas Film Festival, though it does not apparently open for general release until September. After the screening, the Director, producer and both Ron Livingstone and Yul Vazquez were accompanied by Richard Pimentel himself for Q and A, which allowed some helpful insights not only into the making of the movie, but also the impact the movie is hopefully going to have on understanding those with disabilities and their assimilation into the workplace. The story itself unfolds chronologically and retells Richard's quest to find the 'music within' through a series of events including his own injury in Vietnam that caused a sever hearing disability and started Richard on the road to his eventual calling to aid others in finding work despite their disabilities. Eventually this even to a significant impact on the enacting of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As for the film itself, the acting of Ron Livingstone and Michael Sheen is particularly notable and I would be surprised if Sheen is not seen as a candidate for best supporting actor at the Academy awards next year. The other notable success is the outstanding screenplay. McKinney,Kennemer and Olsen may not yet be household names, but based on this showing, we will be seeing a lot more of their work in the future. Highly recommended - don't miss it when it comes to a cinema near you!
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The "Real" Story Behind the Disability Rights Movement
bigdogzog15 February 2007
Having been a part of the disability community in Washington, DC for twenty years, I can say that this movie is truly remarkable in how it portrays my history and the history of my friends, family members, and the disability community as a whole. This is the history of another civil rights movement. It fairly and accurately provides a brief look at who we as a community are and what drove us to evolve and push for the playing field to be leveled just enough so that people who are blind, Deaf, have CP, or some other disability can actually go to a restaurant and eat pancakes on our birthday...

Ron Livingston oh-so accurately portrays Richard Pimentel's passion and anger as he struggles with his own life and as he learns how to channel that passion to begin making a difference, not only for himself, but for all people. Mr. Livingston also manages to reflect Richard's manner; his facial expressions, his speech, and especially his "stage presence."

Michael Sheen, who portrays Art Honeyman, draws the audience in and makes us all believe that he has CP. His ability to do this, to really become Art, should certainly earn him an Oscar.

I would highly recommend that everyone see this very entertaining and thought-provoking movie.
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A wonderful story about friendship and overcoming obstacles
sheau11 April 2007
The story is a compassionate one about overcoming great obstacles and making the best of it. The friendship that develops between two unlikely characters is incredible. There is not a weak link in the bunch. Every portrayal is so refreshingly honest and believable. Yul Vasquez is an incredible actor! You will be amazed that Michael Sheen does not have a disability. It made me feel that there was so much more that I could do with my life, and that I am in reality essentially lazy. It is very motivating to say the least. I hate to spoil it for anyone and give away too many details. The soundtrack will have you doing some toe-tapping as well. Enjoy it and soak up every moment!
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This movie was FANTASTIC!!
turnondafun6929 September 2006
I went to the LA screening of this movie last night. The director, producer, Ron Livingston, Clint Howard and a few of the crew were there for it. I went in knowing nothing about this movie and must say I loved it! It was a mix of both a great drama and hilarious comedy. It teaches you without being preachy and it seemed to fly by. When it ended I really wanted more, thats something unusual lately. Ron did a great job as well as the rest of the cast, especially Michael Sheen. I think we'll be hearing more about this flick at awards time. If not then thats a real shame. Anyways whenever this film comes out I suggest it for anyone who likes to feel good about life. I know I'll be going to see it again after it opens wide.
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A great movie about Vietnam Vets
ultrarunner24 January 2007
As a Vietnam Vet with similar disabilities I could relate to what Richard had to go through to be recognized. The movie was funny, but to the point. There should be an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for Michael Sheen. I previewed Music Within at the film festival in Palm Springs. We were able to question the actors, director and producer at the completion of the showing. That was very instructive. Richard valadated the historic accuracy of the story and the impact Americans with Disabilities had on the Presendenal election for George H Bush. ADA was passed in his administration. The impact of Richard's disabilitiy and his recovery prompted my trip to see the same audiologist and I can now hear much better than with the VA's devices.
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A Must See
Jeno_Jeno19 July 2007
Funny, Gripping, Heart Breaking... This movie has all the elements of Human Nature, both good and bad, and brings them to the Audience in a poignant way. Rich & Art, through their stubbornness and friendship, show that with enough determination 2 people can make a difference. Anyone who has or knows anyone with a disability should appreciate what these 2 men have done for the fellow human being. It also shows what obstacles people with disabilities face and the stigmatizing affects that go with it. It breaks down some barriers of the prejudices that follow the disability community. The Soundtrack is just awesome especially for those of us that remember those times in the 60's & 70's. Top rate acting from some top rate actors.
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An emotional roller-coaster that hits all notes
vinobien25 August 2007
Wow - I saw this movie at the Dallas Int Movie Festival. It was the Audience Award Winner. This movie had everything. It made me laugh and cry (tried to hide it since Im a grown man). The story was great and really dived in to exploring the main character. Ron Livingston was exceptional. I knew little about the disability act, so this movie really enlightened me to the hardships that disabled people have to go through. We met the director after the movie ... young guy who is going to have a bright career. You have got to see this movie. I see at least 5 movies a week and have not seen a more moving story in a long time. The roller-coaster of emotion was overwhelming. The scene at the end going back to the restaurant ws especially moving.
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Inspiring for members of Armed Forces
rondeenee15 April 2007
Richard Pimental tells his story of being a disabled Veteran, and how he was treated when he returned from the war. This movie is very relevant to today's political situation, and it is heartening to those of us going to Iraq or Afhganistan, where the possibility of coming home disabled is extremely high. Knowing there are people like Richard Pimental trying to make life better for anyone disabled is a wonderful thing. Ron Livingston's performance was right on target. He and Richard and the producer made an appearance at Ft. Hood, TX, promoting the movie, signing autographs and answering questions from soldiers. It was great to see them give their time to speak to soldiers.
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This is a CLASSY Indie
Fondafan11 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I Just saw "Music Within" at The Palm Springs Festival and what a wonderful film it is. Honest, humorous and enlightening. I enjoyed the fact it doesn't try to jam a message down your throat. I never felt manipulated by the filmmaker. This young fellow (Steven Sawalich) has made a wonderful first film.

The performances are really good. Ron Livingston does a great job as the lead. Michael Sheen delivers a dynamite turn as Art, a young guy ravaged by Cerabal Palsey. The wonderful trick he pulled off (I guess with the help of the Director) was being understandable when the character needed to be and still create the illusion he had CP. Another acting highlight was Yul Vasquez as this crazy vet Mike. Virtually every performance was solid. Hector Elizondo plays this College Speech Professor perfectly. Even Clint Howard shows up and scores.

For a little indie, it looks great and has a great period (50s, 60s and 70s) feel. No showboating, just right. The music they picked helps a lot.

It's one of those movies you go home, think about and call your friends the next day to tell them about it.
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Livingston gives a stellar performance and Sheen shines in this well-meaning biopic
george.schmidt15 November 2007
THE MUSIC WITHIN (2007) **1/2 Ron Livingston, Melissa George, Michael Sheen, Yul Vazquez, Rebecca De Mornay, Hector Elizondo, Leslie Nielsen. Livingston gives one of his best performances to date in this biography of Richard Pimentel, whose deafness resulted in Vietnam lead him to speak out on behalf of those discriminated for their handicaps and led to the Americans With Disabilities Act. While the film feels like a Hallmark TV Movie the acting is sublimely uniform – Sheen is memorable as Pimentel's cerebral palsy afflicted best friend – and the direction by newcomer Steven Sawalich keeps the story straight forward without being mawkishly maudlin.
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Is the movie serious?
sberner-115 February 2011
I ask because, if that is the actual Pimentel giving the speech in the included extras then it's pretty clear that the director intentionally cast someone much "better looking" by Hollywood standards than the real person to play the part; which really undermines the message. As one who hates discrimination, including discrimination against those who don't look or act "normal," I find it really sad that even a film about combating discrimination could not have as the central character someone a bit overweight. As if an audience would not buy the message if it were delivered by someone not "handsome" enough. The movie has a great story line, progress towards equality and opportunity win me over every time, but that casting choice kills it for me.

On the other hand, if that is not the real Pimentel in the extras, and Ron Livingston does look like him, then I do recommend this.
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morganwh-113 April 2007
This film is absolutely wonderful. Ron Livingston, Michael Sheen, and Yul Vazquez are unforgettable in this film. Their performances are so real and truthful. Michael Sheen's transformation into his character, Art, will leave viewers of this film speechless.

The music for this film really is amazing as well. The story is very inspiring and really makes you want to go out and make a difference in someone's life. It will be no surprise to see this film receive the great notoriety that it deserves. Also, I hope to see more films of this nature that promote the amazing lessons that you learn as you watch this film
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Eye and mind opener
brunkerj25 November 2007
Mr. Pimentel took many steps in the direction of helping people challenged with day to day tasks. We're all aware of wheelchair ramps, larger toilet stalls and wider, more convenient parking places for the handicapped. I was not as aware of the intolerance dealt with every day by the public. The ignorance shown by the waitress first encountered in the pancake house seems to be prevalent even today. Here in San Diego a man with a service dog was refused service not once but twice a a local McDonalds. "Please leave your dog outside" doesn't work for a sight-challenged gentleman, yet in two separate incidents that was the request. I say have these young people watch the movie to help open their eyes to the world around them they may choose not to see. Thank you for entertaining and teaching us in the same film. I hope this work receives recognition as the art it truly is and captures awards near and far.
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This movie is totally insulting and contradictory
rollstuhlwolf21 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched this movie in high definition on television. I am in a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular disorder and like to watch the few films made about those with physical disabilities.

At first I found the main character somewhat noble and captivating. His message about the disabled and the life time he spent fighting to have the disabled recognized and integrated into mainstream society's job market is great. And my problem isn't with the real person who did these things. HE was a great man. But this film is completely hypocritical and diametrically opposed to the very message it is preaching, that I found it insulting.

First of all, they didn't cast anyone in a title role with an actual physical disability. Sure they were competent actors, but it seems completely dis genuine to preach about hiring the disabled and then not actually HIRING THE DISABLED for anything in the film. Further compounded by the fact that in one scene mid way through the film a man is seen walking to a podium on crutches, appearing to have only one leg. But the CGI in this scene is so apparent it is shameful. What? They couldn't find an actual amputee anywhere for the film? For a 5 second shot it was more financially sound to do CGI effects than to just HIRE an ACTUAL amputee? At that point in the film I found it so fraudulent and completely against the message it was trying to convey that I came here to bitch and whine about it like the pathetic cripple I am.

Figure that out.
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Like Geordi on Star Trek TNG... *smacks forehead*
rooprect7 January 2012
Are you familiar with the character "Geordi" on Star Trek the Next Generation? He's a blind character on the Starship Enterprise, Chief Engineer. The problem? He just happens to have a visor that enables him to see perfectly, so he's basically no different from a sighted person. Just a gimmick with a goofy visor.

Similarly, in "Music Within", we get a supposedly deaf man, but after a 12-second montage of him learning to read lips, he is absolutely "normal". He understands people just fine (even when their backs are to him), and when they speak to him he looks them in the eye, not the lips (major oversight by actor Ron Livingston). And just like Geordi's visor, he has a mysterious device strapped to his telephone that makes him able to understand everything perfectly (even though we're repeatedly shown that $1000 hearing aids don't work for him).

Why am I making such a big deal of this seemingly insignificant point? Because it undermines the supposed message of the whole story: that disabled people are exceptional *in their own right*. By making the lead character a deaf person who can hear, by making Geordi a blind man who can see, Hollywood glosses over the reality of having a disability thereby reducing it to trivial.

And that's my gripe with this movie; it's has a very "ABC Afterschool Special" feel to it. The producers tackle a difficult subject but only superficially. Just enough to give us a rousing feeling of warmth.

Is that warmth, or is that just my colostomy bag springing a leak again? Sheesh.

Like several other reviewers, I give this movie a thumbs up for a great subject, but I give it a thumbs down for its clunky, superficial and slightly hypocritical presentation. The whole thing feels somewhat contrived.

The scenes showing discrimination are cartoonishly brutal, and it makes you think everyone in the 70s was a tactless creep. I was alive in the 70s, and while I fully agree that disabled people were overlooked, I never noticed the outright hatred that is portrayed in this film. And we're supposed to believe that the American Disabilities Act suddenly made people tolerant & friendly? That's a little too black&white for me to swallow.

On another note, I agree with what another reviewer said about casting Ron Livingston as Richard Pimmentel. The real Richard Pimmentel is a heavyset man. Why couldn't the producers cast someone who weighed 280 lbs like the real Pimmentel? Or did they themselves discriminate based on looks? Sheesh.

One day Hollywood will make a movie about disabled people and cast REAL disabled people. Until then, I won't be impressed by any lofty message they're trying to impart. We can applaud Michael Sheen all day for his portrayal of a man with Cerebral Palsy, but somewhere out there is an actor with real CP who's out of work because directors figure he's too much trouble to work with.
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I was at the "Music Within" premiere at Ft. Hood.
cavantel12 February 2008
How can I get a copy of "Music Within" to show to my soldiers? LT Eddy Cavanagh

I found the Premiere for the seven o'clock showing on the way home from duty. Ironically, I was still in uniform.

I was able to meet Jon Livingston and Richard Pimentel and discuss my views with them.

This would be an inspirational movie for the troops at Ft. Hood.

Maybe it can be shown at Sergeant's Time training which is mandatory training every Friday?

Can this movie be downloaded off a payment link or provided via the DVD medium?
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Great true story, poorly executed
harasylime30 June 2008
I was so disappointed in this movie. I don't know much about the true story, so I was eager to see it play out on film and educate myself about a little slice of history. With such a powerful true story and great actors it seemed like a surefire combination. Well, somewhere the screenplay failed them. It was so scattered - is this movie about his childhood? his love life? his own disability? his speaking ability? his passion for the disabled? I'm sure there is a way to incorporate all of those things into a good story, but this movie wasn't it. I was left cold watching characters that were unlikable not because of their disabilities, but because of their personalities. Other small gripes: 1. The heavy-handed soundtrack. It's the seventies - WE GET IT ALREADY! 2. If he's such a phenomenal public speaker, why weren't we treated to more than a snippet here and there - and even then mostly in montages?
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One of the most inspiring movies I've ever seen
Atul Dixit1 April 2008
What a masterpiece this is. I luckily got to see it and boy, the first thought that came to mind after seeing this movie is 'this ain't any less than The Shawshank Redemption'. Undoubtedly one of the most (under-rated) inspiring movies I've ever seen. The direction by Steven Sawalich is excellent and three lead characters Ron Livingston (Richard Pimentel), Melissa George (Christine) and Michael Sheen (Art Honeyman) did full justice to their roles. Special mention of Michael Sheen who played Art Honeyman in this movie is fantastic. In the very first scene of his, he catches your attention when he tries to open the Coke bottle. His characters is way too funny with perfect one line dialogs, for example when Richard gives Art the draft of the book he has written (to read and comment), Richard asks in between (while Art is reading the book in the toilet) "What page you're at?" to which Art replies "I'm at the page shut the f*** up". This also shows the kind of special bond shared by Richard and Art. I rated this movie a perfect 10/10. Do your self a favor, watch this masterpiece.
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Excellent unusual biopic: VERY funny, and very smart
intelearts1 April 2008
Music Within is simply in turns hilarious, moving, and a really great way to mix a great message with a very entertaining film.

Superb performances throughout - Livingston carries this lightly and easily - and Martin Sheen is absolutely unrecognizable from his role as Tony Blair in the Queen and does a very good job.

This true story of the fight for rights for disabled citizens is not a heavy diatribe - it truly will have you laughing and cheering along.

Nice doses of cynicism, nothing too saccharine, and a great job by all involved.

Highly recommended.
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Deaf Within
tedg21 June 2008
Generally I enjoy writing comments, but there are two situations where it carries some substantial qualms. One is when a filmmaker sends his/her film to me for commenting. The risks of this are obvious, because I have two audiences: my regular readers who look for something interesting and ideally illuminating, and the filmmaker who I want to encourage.

The other case is when I have a bad film of a real life, presumably a noble life. I've watched two recently, both true stories of broken boys who died in the wild. Here we have something different: a living man, who I assume is considered to have done worthy things. I also assume that major facts are more or less true.

But its a disaster as a movie, and because it has no value reflects badly on a life. The basic problem of course is that what makes this man worthy of a film cannot make a worthy film. But the problems are deeper.

Its at least three films. One is about his relationship to his mother which is filmed in a fantastic and stylized manner with voice-over narration. A second is about his love affair. As with most such stories, this depends on the various attractions of the actress. Here it is a pretty girl, who is unique in being an Australian actress who cannot act. But she is pretty and sexy. This story works against the biography because even with her deficiencies (both as actress and character), she outshines her man.

The third movie is about the guy and his work, annotated by his friendships with the "handicapped," plus his own handicap.

In a better film, these three stories (plus the handicapping) would be integrated. They would weave into and enhance each other, warping suggestive texture and opening lacy opportunities for us to relate our own urges/lives.

But this doesn't.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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inspiring story triumphs over mediocre movie-making
Roland E. Zwick12 March 2011
"Music Within" tells the true story of Richard Pimentel, a Vietnam vet who lost almost all of his hearing on the battlefield and who spent the rest of his life advocating for the rights of the disabled. In fact, Pimentel was instrumental in getting the Americans With Disabilities Act passed into law.

Hampered by pedestrian direction by Steven Sawalich and a superficial script, the film, nevertheless, boasts enough humorously sardonic moments to keep it from taking itself too seriously. The relationship between Richard and his longtime girlfriend Christine (played by Melissa George, who's a dead ringer for a young Sandy Dennis) is dealt with in trite and overly familiar terms, and the filmmaking itself never rises much above the level of disease-of-the-week, TV-movie competence.

Still, the performances are good - especially by Michael Sheen as Richard's best buddy, Art Honeyman, a genius with Cerebral Palsy - and the material itself so moving and inspiring that one can easily overlook the movie's numerous stylistic weaknesses. And, besides, you get to see the late great Leslie Nielson in one of his last - and briefest - appearances as a forward-thinking doctor who changes Richard's life forever.
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One of the best movies
jimmyainslie14 April 2008
What an absolute gem of a movie-I thought the production, direction and acting were superb.This moving portrayal of disabled people and their champion is one the most sincere that I have ever seen; and as I myself am not disabled.I could only give this work of art a 10,despite the fact that NOTHING is perfect in this world, but for for me it was almost so! I recommend this movie to anyone who has a heart and can feel for others.As a rejoinder, I have to say that I was perturbed by those who marked this between 1 and 4! Keep up the good work. I am sorry, but I have run out of words to say; and I do not know how to make this any better. Sorry to have been a trouble in getting this comment right.

I would prefer to have the pseudonym "jainso.UK" used as author as opposed to my my real name -if that is possible please.
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Wonderful movie - certain irony.
dq-1913 April 2008
As a mother of a disabled actress with Cerebral Palsy who is heavily involved in advocacy within the disabled community we were thrilled with this movie. My daughter met Mr Pimentel at a Youth Leadership Conference in Sacramento and his speech motivated her tremendously and she was excited to hear lines spoken in the movie that she heard from Mr Pimental. Ron Livingston did a great job portraying Mr Pimental and, of course, Mr Michael Sheen was incredible - no one with any knowledge of CP would have guessed that this gentleman did not have CP. Having said all this - I did find it horribly ironic that although this movie was all about inclusion and disabled rights, the main disabled characters were portrayed by able bodied actors. Was it impossible to find a good deaf actor and a good actor with cerebral palsy? One of my daughter's goals in life is to get people to accept actors with disablities playing a variety of roles on screen - believe me they are capable. Once again - we loved the movie and all it told and hope that the disabled community will continue to be seen and heard.
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Every crowd has a silver lining
farhans2 April 2008
I watched this movie last night. I prefer to think myself as an avid movie's collector and most of my all time favorite movies are movies like this one. This movie had everything a great storyline, exceptionally good acting, humor (both dark and light), and above all it was based on a true story. I was particularly moved by Michael Sheen's performance, which should be Oscar worthy by all standards. Ron Livingston was great too. What made me really appreciate the movie was its dialogs. Most of the situations were too heavy in terms of the sheer drama surrounding the characters, yet the dialogs were just very down to earth and sometimes even mixed with a unique humor to augment an already perfect setting. Writers did not pull any punches when it came for a character to shine in the spot light, yet most of the lines delivered were very humble and didn't, in any way, make the situation more dramatic....hence complementing the scene by cushioning the throbbing emotions of the people involved rather than over stating and pushing things over the edge.

Start of the movie was really great and Ron's brand of narration just rightly set the tone for the events to come. My interpretation of the movie was just the whole deal with disabled people until it came to that point when Ron's character drew the parallel between him and "them". The highs and lows to follow, did the story quite a lot of justice.

The ending was just absolutely breath-taking. It was soft and just concluded this ride with a whimper, but measured bang on the rechter scale.

This movie is here to win hearts of viewers and unlike many movies that i have watched lately, it is here to make a winning statement with perfection. Watch it and buy yourself a conscious, if you don't have one already.
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Unexpectedly touching
kerfufflenco20 February 2018
I had no preconceptions going into this movie and at the end it almost bought me to tears. The acting, even by innocuous characters like the army buddies, was spot on by every one. The story itself was inspirational and the camera work was flawless. A fantastic re-telling of a great story worth the effort. Intelligent comedy weaved amongst hard to face issues makes this a definite "Excellent" to all my friends.
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