This is definitely Sia’s terrible combo of autism and music.
Sia’s film directorial debut “Music” is so tone-deaf and obnoxious, it’s impossible to comprehend why it would combine a story about autism with music videos with her new songs playing. As you know, I’m an autistic film critic, who was hired as a podcaster for NEWHD Radio, which is dedicated to hiring people on the autistic spectrum. And I’ve praised movies for supporting this disability like “Rain Man,” “Life, Animated,” or “The Accountant.”
But in “Music’s” case, Sia has to guide Maddie Ziegler as an autistic teen named Music, who wears headphones, looks like she’s smiling a lot, says things like “Make you eggs” or “Braid your hair,” and freaks out louder than Dustin Hoffman’s meltdowns in “Rain Man.” This actress doesn’t have the disability, and presents it in the most obnoxious ways. And the only reason she was cast in this role is because she’s collaborated with Sia in her music videos. Sia may have apologized to some members of the autistic community, but what’s done is done.
Even worse is when Kate Hudson has to play her half-sister named Zu, who is also a sober drug addict, and has no sympathy for her recently departed grandmother (Mary Kay Place). She’s a great actress in general (“Almost Famous” is her best movie, for the record), but here, she makes weird smiles, talks like a Paris Hilton wannabe, and offers no sentimentality. Again, comparing it to “Rain Man,” she’s no Tom Cruise. All her character does is dream of moving from New York City to Costa Rica, while dealing with her boss (Ben Schwartz), who complains that she doesn’t bring in enough money from her clients.
Leslie Odom, Jr. co-stars as the kind neighbor Ebo from Ghana, who is also a boxing teacher and aspiring musician, and knows how Music functions. Of course, he has to learn to connect with Zu, and deal with her drunk behavior during the film’s turning point. It’s all obligatory.
Hector Elizondo is the building supervisor, who has to deal with Zu’s lazy attitude, in regards to taking care of Music, while cameos from Juliette Lewis and Kathy Najimy are wasted. And yes, even Sia appears as herself. It all seems tedious and typical. Believe me, it’s more fun seeing Alfred Hitchcock make quick cameos in his classics than this.
The music videos feature some catchy tunes by Sia and lots of colorful sets and rooms, but they have to be tainted by these awful costumes. Some of which look like they’re from “Teletubbies or “The Banana Splits,” others remind you of terrible dresses from the Golden Globes red carpet pre-show, and some have people in pink bubbles or wearing rainbow earmuffs. They exist only because they represent how music sees the world, but believe me Owen Suskind using Disney animated features were more helpful and insightful than this.
Sia can sing in general, but seeing her make this, makes me want to give her a warning: don’t go down the bad movies path Madonna has taken. Not she could guide such fine talents as Hudson or Odom, Jr. with the right intentions. This is one of the worst movies of the year, and February has just gotten started.
In Select IMAX locations and On Demand