If giving the audience a great show isn’t enough inspiration, then how about your life?!?!?
A talented-pianist (Elijah Wood) finally returns to the big stage after suffering a nervous-breakdown nearly five years before. Apparently, he was playing one of the toughest, most impossible pieces every created, and in front of a sold-out, live crowd, he just couldn’t handle it all, leaving him to stay behind the curtain for quite some time, most likely shacking-up with his hot and famous actress wife (Kerry Bishe). Tonight, though, is the night where he tries to get all the magic back. Tonight, he’ll play along with an orchestra in hopes that he’ll be all fine and dandy, while also being able to win back the respect of his confidantes. However, while he’s playing, somehow, he begins to realize that somebody’s been messing around with his notes and sheet-music, threatening him by stating that if he messes up this piece by any note whatsoever, he, as well as his pretty wife will be shot dead by a sniper. Sooner than later, he is given an ear-piece where a random voice (John Cusack) comes through, yelling at him, shouting demands and making sure that everything goes to plan. Because if not, things aren’t going to be turning out too pretty.
The magic of movie-making is that you can literally do anything if you put your mind to it. It doesn’t matter how crazy, or out-of-this-world the premise may be, as long as you can keep on adding something new, fun, or even vibrant to the piece you’re working with, then plausibility doesn’t really matter. Well, in most cases that is. Mainly Hithcock’s films, where everything was over-blown, you just had to believe in it because the man himself took it all up with so much damn sincerity and heart.
However, while Grand Piano may not be anywhere near the same quality-like film in the same vein as a Hitchcock movie, it still deserves to be mentioned as something in which I feel like Hithcock himself would be a bit proud of. Sure, “Speed in an orchestra” doesn’t sound like all that of an appealing-idea, but if done right, it can turn out to be fun. Hell, even the original idea of Speed didn’t seem all that promising to begin with, but in the case of that movie, it continued to spin itself completely out-of-control; almost to the point of where we had to just surrender, let our imaginations run wild and enjoy the show.
That’s why that movie is considered an action-classic, something this movie may never, ever be considered, but still deserves to be seen, if only because it uses its unique-spin on the “ticking-time-bomb”-angle that most thriller use, and giving us all, as well as the budget itself, a run for its money. Sure, it’s an indie-film through and through – plenty of shots seem as if the CGI had been done through a DELL and the fact that we are condensed to this one and only place shows the limitations the film makers had on where they could exactly go with this story, but at the end of the day, it actually works well in the movie’s part.
It doesn’t matter that the movie doesn’t have quite nearly the budget of a Michael Bay flick; what matters is that it keeps our hearts racing, or blood boiling and our expectations dashed at any second. Most of this is predictable and better yet, often than not, you’ll be able to pin-point exactly when a certain character is going to come into play at what time, but there’s still plenty of times where you’re able to forget about that and just see what it is that director Eugenio Mira can really do to make us feel like we’re stuck in a situation we ourselves will never get out of. Though most of it is poorly-written and corny, we do feel like this and it helps that the movie always leaves us one step behind the baddie that’s doing all of this to begin with. Most thrillers forget that sometimes, being a smart audience-member, doesn’t always work and can sometimes be used against you. Especially once you’ve gotten on that high-horse, and can’t seem to get off of it due to how many damn movies you’ve seen.
I’m talking about me, of course.
Speaking of the baddie, if there was any disappointing-factor of this movie, aside from the lame-o dialogue, it’s that John Cusack doesn’t get much to do other than just yell in Elijah Wood’s ear. Though I don’t consider this a spoiler, John Cusack does eventually get to show off that aging-mug of his, and while it’s definitely a face I was glad to see, I was ashamed that he didn’t really do much except get into a battle with whomever it was that he was fighting (I’m really trying not to spoil anything anymore). Just having Cusack in your movie is enough to make me pleased, but a little bit more of him would have went a long, long way. Actually, let me rephrase that: A little bit more of him doing something more than just talking into a walkie-talkie would have gone a long, long way and helped this movie give us a more memorable villain. Because, come to think of it, when do we ever get to see John Cusack embrace his dark-side? I mean, come on! Let’s make some good use of it, people!
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Elijah Wood in what seems to be his 50th movie in the past two years. Don’t take that as a complaint though, because not only does it show his range and his ability to show up in just about anything, but it also gives us more chances to see what this guy can do with every character he gets to play. Wood has never really lit the world on fire with his acting, but I don’t think he has to. He’s always sort of been there, being small and talking quietly, as if he’s absolutely petrified to have anybody hear him utter a word. That aspect of his acting works so well for this character and not only gets us on his side right quick, but also has us believe that he would turn the other cheek so quick and start fighting for himself. Once this does happen, it’s pretty rad and it makes you wonder what would have happened, had Elijah Wood been able to release these same type of anger-skills in the Lord of the Rings. Frodo would have definitely been more bad-ass, that’s for sure.
Consensus: You don’t have to surgically-remove your brain entirely, but just the parts of it that make you actually think like a normal, breathing human being would suffice when watching Grand Piano, which is basically Speed, with a piano. That is it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, ComingSoon.net
“Speed with a piano” sounds like enough of a reason to get me to see this. I know very little about it, but yes you’re right. Elijah Wood does seem to be in everything these days, doesn’t he? Not sure if he is that good to merit this many roles (and lots of leads) but I’ll be sure to check this out and see how it measures up to his other stuff
He’s quite solid here, Tom. Pulls off the lead character well — nevermind the ludicrous plot.
Wood and Cusack are very good, but it’s obvious who showed up to film more.
Nice review Dan! This is a movie that caught my interest a while ago. Hope we get it soon!
I hope so, too!
Sold. I’m seeing this. Speed with a piano is enough for me.
I think that’s definitely the main selling-point.
The “SUP?” picture made me lol 😀
Glad to be of service!
This sounds pretty naff. No doubt I'[ll watch it one day. But that day is a long way off yet!
It’s a fun time so if that’s all you want, I’d say give this a watch then.
Good review, Dan. I basically agree. This is fun and entertaining, though it isn’t great cinema and has plenty of plot holes.
It has plenty of holes, but damn, it was fun!
Interesting. Saw the trailer a while back and thought it looked like a good 70s b-movie thriller idea, but wasn’t too keen. After reading this I’ll definitely give it a proper look! Nice one.
I think you definitely should. Thanks!
Speed with a piano? I’m there.
I knew it!
Good review Dan. Hadn’t heard about this film until now, and I’m quite intrigued. Sounds like Phone Booth the musical!
It is! Just add a little Mozart and you got it!
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a bit now. Can’t wait until I carve out enough time for it. Great review.
I definitely think you should, if all you want is a little fun and excitement.
Looks very interesting. Might give it a shot, especially because of your Hitchcock comparison. Solid write-up Dan!
Nice review, still a bit on the fence with this one though
Yeah, I’d say go with it if you want to have some fun. Anything other than that, then don’t even bother.
Speed and a piano? I’m sold 🙂 Awesome review! I’m looking forward to checking this one out!
[…] sonics and a deft touch of death. Grand Piano was described by my buddy Dan O’Neill as “Speed with an orchestra”, and while I think Dan became a little over-enthusiastic with his praise, don’t mistake my […]
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