If School of Rock, The Commitments and Almost Famous had a movie baby, with a screenplay by Shirley MacLaine, it would be Mighty Oak.
I'm not sure if I believe in reincarnation (sorry Shirley) but the young star of this film, first time actor Tommy Ragen (who plays Oak), could possibly be the reincarnation of Patrick Fugit's character from the aforementioned Almost Famous.
The story focuses on a group of young musicians trying to get their big break. When their lead singer is suddenly killed, the band goes their separate ways. That is until something, perhaps supernatural, brings them back together.
The film is very flawed. It skirts around important issues like PTSD, addiction and grief, but there is something sweet about it. Mostly Tommy Ragen's voice. He is adorable, charming and freakishly talented. If the credits are to be believed, 12 year old Tommy, wrote or co-wrote the film's original music, along with Caroline Corn. Those songs give the film its only truly engaging moments.
Carlos PenaVega, is…as Raven Symone' hilariously describes him: a "brown sugar piece of candy". (Raven provides the film's only laugh out loud moment). Carlos's affable character, Pedro, speaks for we the viewer as he tries to get everyone in the film to focus and tell a believable story.
Sadly, that doesn't ever really come together. The screenplay is as forced as the forged notes the character, Oak, uses to excuse his tardiness in school.
But, the film will suffice for some summer escapism. Movie theaters are still closed. It's still not safe to be out in large groups. But it is safe to stay at home and watch a well intentioned film, with some nice moments and a forgivable lack of perfection that its inspirations (School of Rock, The Commitments, Almost Famous) did a much better job of mastering.
Come for the music, stay for the cute kid, and try not to think too hard about the rest.
Mighty Oak is available on digital platforms starting July 7.
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