Music Within is so well meaning I don't even want to point out all its flaws. It's about the creation of the Americans with Disabilities act. Since this is the only movie they're making about a very important issue, we have to take it, even though it totally feels like a TV movie of the week, quality-wise.
Music Within Review
Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston) overcame his crazy mother to find a talent at public speaking, but when he didn't get into his dream school, he signed up for the GI bill. In Vietnam he went not quite deaf, but with a permanent ringing in his ears. Finding a life for himself with other veterans and disabled friends, Pimental worked to get jobs for the disabled and ultimately came up with the standard.
The struggles of these poor kids who went to war are heartbreaking. Thank God somebody fought for their rights, and this absolutely needs to be addressed for every generation. This film shows a world where the Ugly Law existed and there were no ramps for wheelchair access.
The film maintains a sense of humor about all of its pathos. It isn't totally in "feel bad for us" territory. Michael Sheen steals the show as Pimental's vulgar friend Art with cerebral palsy. Livingston gets a few zingers in there too.
Where it really feels like a TV movie is in the scripting. Everything happens in a timeline format, not organically. When he becomes successful, Pimental fights with his girlfriend over some vague missing of an event because they know there has to be a conflict but they didn't think of one. They also bump into each other on the street a lot, because that's the only way the script knows how to move characters forward.
The Vietnam scenes look very low rent. They fly over what looks like Montana, and set up a tent in the grass. I can't believe Dale Dye showed up even for this. Probably the same reason I'm not totally bashing it.
It would be nice if such an important issue got a better screen treatment, but hey, it's better than Blood Diamond. At least it's not wasting vast resources trying to show how important it is. It's the little movie that could and it just eeks by with a professional cast and lots of heart.