Begin Again

High Fidelity-worshipping, vinyl-clutching bachelors everywhere will root for and lament along with Dan (Mark Ruffalo at his shaggiest), a down-and-out record label exec who wishes the music biz could go back to the way things were a couple decades ago. Dan meets and eventually becomes a musical mentor and friend to Gretta (Keira Knightley), seemingly a bird with a broken wing, recently cheated on by her douchey rockstar boyfriend (no acting required from Adam Levine). What follows is plenty of unbridled, music-driven cheese— some cacophonous Maroon 5 tracks, Gretta’s overproduced Taylor Swift-style numbers, Dan and Gretta listening to each other’s “guilty pleasure” music on their phones. All this would have been nauseating if it weren’t for the characters’ redeeming lack of conformity to Hollywood’s sexual conventions. Nobody gets saved by a shiny new girl or boy in their life. Gretta, for all her charms, doesn’t get put on a pedestal; her overweight, underachieving musician friend Steve (James Corden) isn’t secretly holding a torch for her. Mixed-gender friendships, though not immune to sexual tension, stay platonic and genuine. Characters work hard at repairing their damaged romantic relationships instead of oversimplifying and playing the blame game. And women characters don’t hate one another on sight! It’s worth catching if you’re in the mood for a light summer flick—unchallenging, sweet, colorful, with a happy ending.