Ah yes, fourth of July weekend. It's one of the biggest weekends of the year for the cinematic box office, rife with blockbusters and mega-action flicks aplenty. But what's out there for those of us who may not be so keen on spending their movie-watching hours digging into, say, a movie about autobots? There's John Carney's (he of "Once" fame) latest, "Begin Again," which eschews singer-songwriters as actors for movie stars-as-singers (Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo) — with the exception of Maroon 5's Adam Levine.
Given the film's indie feel, loveletter to New York air, and warm-fuzzy love thing as told through music, plenty of you out there are likely want to see it. (Director John Carney's first film, "Once," may have made you feel the same.) But is the film worth your time? And just how good is Levine in his big screen debut? We've scoured the Internet to see what the critics have to say so you know exactly what you're in for when you head to the cineplex. (Yes, we said cineplex. Just go with it.) Turns out? Begin Again feels like the musical romantic comedy you've been waiting for
The Music is Fun
"I reveled in the charm, the romance and most of all the bevy of terrific songs, composed by Gregg Alexander, the pop maestro behind the short-lived 1990s project New Radicals. (If you still turn up the volume on your earbuds when “You Get What You Give” comes on, go ahead and buy this movie's soundtrack right now.)" - Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
It's Sweet But Not Too Sweet
"The film won me over with its amiable wit and rarely cloying sweetness. Ruffalo uses his droopy-dog features and whispery mumble to good effect, endearing himself to us with all his shabby earnestness, even when he’s being a drunken annoyance. It’s refreshing to see the playful, gamine Knightley in a modern-day setting, and in something relatively light and uplifting. She’s also quite a nice singer, a softer Aimee Mann ..." - Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair.
It's Better Than Some Alternatives (Cough)
"With its cast of extremely likable performers, the perfect summer-in-the-city backdrop—in this case, New York—and a soundtrack stuffed with catchy, well-produced hits, "Begin Again" makes for easy-breezy entertainment. And it provides the perfect alternative to certain obnoxious boy toys that will be mangling the box office into their own private playpen this weekend." - Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com
And Last But Not Least: How Did Adam Levine Do?
Overall, critics were surprised by Levine, calling him "unexpectedly likable" (Lawson), even though, according to Wloszczyna, he's "basically playing off his public persona to the hilt...".
Most impressed, though, was Rolling Stone's Peter Travers, who called Levine "startlingly good, tackling the role without a cheesy grab for sympathy. Levine is revelatory in the scene in which Dave tries to win back Greta by performing one of her songs, 'Lost Stars,' clueless that his embroidered version clashes with the purity Greta strives for."
So — who's catching "Begin Again" this weekend? Already seen it? Share your thoughts in the comments!