Music Within is a 2007 comedy-drama film directed by Steven Sawalich and starring Ron Livingston, Melissa George, Michael Sheen, Rebecca De Mornay and Marion Ross. The film tells the true story of Richard Pimentel, a respected public speaker whose hearing disability attained in the Vietnam War drove him to become an activist for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Sawalich|
|Produced by||Brett Donowho|
Bruce Wayne Gillies
Oli Laperal Jr.
|Written by||Bret McKinney|
Mark Andrew Olsen
|Music by||James T. Sale|
|Edited by||Timothy Alverson|
|Distributed by||MGM Distribution Co.|
|Box office||US$153,205 (domestic)|
In 1970s Portland, Oregon, Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston) realizes he has a remarkable gift for public speaking. Pimentel's idol is College Bowl founder Dr. Padrow (Hector Elizondo), but upon trying out for Dr. Padrow, the ambitious young speaker is informed that he won't have anything to talk about until he has lived a full life.
Realizing that there is some merit to Dr. Padrow's observation, Pimentel subsequently enlists in the military and prepares for duty in Vietnam. Later, while fighting on the battlefield, Pimentel loses most of his hearing and is left with permanent tinnitus. He returns home frustrated, and enrolls at Portland State University. When others inform him that he will never achieve his dreams because he is deaf, the determined veteran makes it his mission to prove them wrong.
But it is not as much about changing others' perceptions of persons with disabilities as it is about altering their perceptions of themselves, and with a little help from foul-mouthed genius Art Honeyman (Michael Sheen) (who has cerebral palsy), free-spirited beauty Christine (Melissa George), and mercurial, hard-drinking veteran Mike Stoltz (Yul Vázquez), Pimentel plays a pivotal role in creating the Americans With Disabilities Act.
- Ron Livingston as Richard Pimentel
- Melissa George as Christine
- Michael Sheen as Art Honeyman
- Yul Vazquez as Mike Stolz
- Rebecca De Mornay as Mrs. Pimental
- Hector Elizondo as Ben Padrow
- Leslie Nielsen as Bill Austin
- Ridge Canipe as Young Richard Pimental
- Paul Michael as Joe
- Clint Jung as Mr. Pimental
- John Livingston as Mr. Parks
- Brett Donowho as McMahon
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter noted: "Music Within will hook the audience up with a supremely cool and witty real-life character, Richard Pimentel...what should be a tough, sentimental slog whisks by in a breezy, entertaining 94 minutes like a kind of illustrated stand-up comedy routine." Matt Seitz of The New York Times, however, called the film's direction "annoyingly unimaginative," ultimately deeming it "a bad movie with a good heart." Reviewing the film for Slant Magazine, Nick Schager awarded it two out of four stars, noting: "Livingston, a consistently appealing presence who exudes unpretentious everyman charm, successfully sells even the corniest of scenarios—the most groan-worthy of which is a discriminatory pancake house offense that, per uplifting melodramatic requirements—is rectified 20 years later with some heartwarming syrup."
Roger Ebert called the film "entertaining" and "sometimes inspiring," but added: "What bothers me is that Music Within takes an individual story, an inspiring one, yes, and then thinks that's all there is to be told. It wasn't one guy who got mad. It was decades of struggle, decades of rejection, decades of streets that couldn't be crossed, stairs that couldn't be climbed, houses that couldn't be lived in and customers who couldn't be bothered."
Movie director Steven Sawalich won an Audience Award at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival for best narrative feature film.
Music Within was released on Region 1 DVD on April 8, 2008.
- "Music Within". American Film Institute Catalog. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- "Music Within". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 15, 2007.
- Friess, Steven (November 5, 2007). "Disabled war veteran's activism forges onto film". USA Today. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Loving, Lisa (May 19, 2008). "Pushing for fairness". PSU Magazine. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Honeycutt, Kirk (October 25, 2007). "Music Within". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Seitz, Matt Zoller (October 26, 2007). "How a Hero Hears the World". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Schager, Nick (October 11, 2007). "Music Within". Slant Magazine. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
- Ebert, Roger (October 25, 2007). "Music Within". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 5, 2018.