Stet, a troubled and angry 11-year-old orphan from a small Texas town, ends up at a Boy Choir school back East after the death of his single mom. Completely out of his element, he finds himself in a battle of wills with a demanding Choir Master who recognizes a unique talent in this young boy as he pushes him to discover his creative heart and soul in music.Written by
Dustin Hoffman seriously studied the piano in his youth, but was not considered talented enough to make a career of it, just like his character Master Carvelle. See more »
Most of the music in this film is altered from its original versions, in some cases ending up dramatically different. Handel's Coronation Anthem, "Zadok the Priest", for example, is sung for about sixteen bars, when the audience suddenly applauds, some four or five minutes before the authentic piece would have been finished. Very few of these modifications were noted in the credits as "arranged by . . ." Speaking of poor Handel, his name is listed in the credits several times (the film score uses several of his works) as "Georges Friedrich Handel". Why would the French spelling of "George" be used? Handel was German, writing most of his music in England and Ireland. (Even the French-language Wikipedia page lists him as George, with the German alternative of Georg also noted.) And the reference to his "Alleluia" from Messiah borders on criminal. Everyone knows - or certainly should know in a production like this that strives to appear "classical" - that the piece was titled "Hallelujah" in every creditable published edition. See more »
You're at the starting point of a walk through many movies (particularly this one and a certain immensely popular franchise) and still more works of Young Adult fiction. It can't contain any spoilers unless you were born yesterday. In that case, it may spoil the whole genre.
This should give you the general, not to say generic, idea. A largely orphaned 11-year-old boy with one or more unsympathetic parent figures is sent to a boarding school for children with a special gift. The school is located far out in the country, in a shadowy stone edifice of medieval design. All of the pupils are gifted, but our hero/surrogate is more gifted than the rest. The squabbling faculty includes a martinet, a mentor to our hero, and a revered Master. The Master, whose eyes may or may not twinkle, will become our hero's super-mentor and ace in the hole.
The pupils learn the arcana of their art in the classroom and practice it on their own till they can accomplish amazing feats. Among them our hero finds at least one amiable buddy, at least one garden-variety tormentor, and exactly one Aryan-looking arch rival whose malice is a bit thick. He gives the arch rival a well-deserved thrashing, but they do not become best friends afterward as in Young Adult fiction of an earlier era. In fact, our hero couldn't keep out of trouble if he tried (he seldom does), but it's all right because he's the most special child on the premises.
Now we jump briefly to another genre. It's the day of the big show, and the star is suddenly out of it. Our heroine (read hero, in the case of Boychoir) must fill in. She'll be all right, they tell her, though they're sweating bullets inside. She's got it in her, she knows the routine by heart. All she has to do is follow the maestro's eyes or the bouncing ball or something. She's going out there a kid, but she's got to come back a star. Yes, she'd blow it if this were only the third reel, but it's almost the end of the movie. So.
Now back to the first genre and the denouement of our hero's story. Through superior talent and a bit of learning, he has risen to every challenge. Even if he doesn't get a letter of recommendation from the Master (you'll just have to watch and see about that), we know he has been recognized as the greatest prodigy that ever passed through Hogw--, er, Boychoir School.
And that, unfortunately, seems to be what matters above all. In Boychoir, the protagonist's worth apparently increases in his father's eyes, as in those of the Master and the Headmistress, in proportion to his achievement. I agree with another reviewer, Stream-it, who comments, "The messages here seemed to be, very loosely, only those who become 'the best' can expect to receive the love of family and acceptance within their institution of choice. Didn't work for me." (Review title: "Entirely predictable...almost.")
The six stars that I've given to this film are mainly for the choral music, which is good as far as it goes, the photography, which is tasteful, and Kevin McHale's performance as Wooly, which is transparently right. Being among the few who haven't seen him in anything else, I don't know whether he's always the same or not. The four missing stars are for the narrative magic that wasn't there.
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