Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) is an 11-year-old orphan, growing up in the Walden Home for Boys. His parents, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a famous classical cellist, and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a rock guitarist, met in New York and had a one night fling. Neither of them knows that Evan is alive due to the fact that Lyla’s controlling father signed release papers for the baby’s adoption immediately after his birth. He also told Lyla that the baby didn’t survive childbirth after Lyla was hit by a car. He confesses the truth to her on his deathbed and Lyla sets out to locate her son.
Meanwhile Evan has always believed his parents are alive and thinks that he can ‘feel’ them through music. Evan has natural musical talent and is totally absorbed by music and the sounds around him. The other boys at the orphanage tease him for being ‘a freak’.
Evan eventually runs away from the orphanage to try and find his parents and unfortunately runs into a very unpleasant character named Wizard (Robin Williams). Wizard controls a gang of boys who busk in the streets and collect money for him. He quickly sees Evan's talent and the money he might bring in. Wizard suggests the name of August Rush as they see a bus drive by with it on and Evan assumes this name. Evan’s luck improves when the police raid the dilapidated theatre the boys are living in, and Evan escapes. This time he hides in a church where a benevolent priest takes him in. Recognising his talent, the priest enrols him into an elite music school where he rapidly develops.
Separation from a parent; being an orphan
This movie contains some violence. For example:
- At the Walden Home for boys, a man kicks a boy.
- Older boys at the home wake Evan up in the middle of the night to bully and threaten him.
- Louis has a couple of physical and verbal fights with a member of his band.
- Lyla argues with her father.
- A boy gets hit by a car but is not hurt.
- Wizard throws a knife into a table.
- Wizard picks Evan up by the collar and slams him into a wall.
- A boy from Wizard’s gang hits Wizard over the head with a guitar.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes noted above, children in this age group might be disturbed by the following scenes:
- Lyla is in hospital after being hit by a car (not actually shown) but she looks awful, with her face pasty and bruised.
- When Evan arrives in New York City, the sights and sounds are quite scary.
- Evan meets Arthur busking in New York. Arthur takes him ‘home’ to a dilapidated old theatre that is also home to many homeless children and adults.
- Wizard is a scary-looking person.
Children in this age group might be disturbed by Wizard's characterisation. For example, Wizard’s control of Evan is quite scary. He arrives at the music school pretending to be Evan’s father and is very threatening to Evan. He persuades him to tell the music school director that he is in fact his father.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.
This movie contains some sexual references, such as discussion of the conception and birth of Evan.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There are scenes showing dinking and smoking in pubs, clubs and cars.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including one scene of passionate kissing.
The brand Pepsi is displayed.
This movie contains some medium-level coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
August Rush is a movie which portrays the triumph of the human spirit over dire circumstances. It includes some lovely music and captures the depth and complexity of human emotions. The main message from this movie is to follow your heart. You can talk with your child about your thoughts on this as well as your own thoughts on persevering in one’s beliefs and the value and love of music presented in the movie.
You can also talk about issues and real-life consequences, such as: casual sex and one-night stands; the long-term effects of placing a child into custodial care; and the consequences of making important life decisions on behalf of others.