The boys' voices are nothing short of breathtaking in their collective harmony. Watching Stet put himself through the intense paces in order to simply get to his peers' level of mastery is warming in itself. Furthermore, channeling this world of baroque arrangements and the unabashed youthful adoration of it through the eyes of a steely 11-year-old is engaging; Stet's discovery and appreciation for the music rivals the audience's own. But all of this magic is somewhat hampered by the complete mishandling of the talent that this film has at its disposal. Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Eddie Izzard and Kevin McHale all receive billing here, and for what? While their appearances may lend to the stature of the film, watching them feels like observing an athlete warming-up before the big game.
They go through the paces, appropriately firebrand or inspiring when the script requires it, but is that enough? The misuse of Hoffman - who doesn't become a true part of the narrative until a third of the way in - is the most disheartening. While he is meant to play the inspiring mentor, we never get to tune into the personable self. He is always distant, delivering the bare minimum to make for an effective performance. Overall, The Choir is a lovely, hollow thing. Hoping to reap the rewards of otherwise fallow land in the arena of adolescent drama, this film is be best considered as a safe, warm family film. But don't come looking to be blown away or deeply affected by the performances or story it puts forth.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem