Hulu’s John Green-esque ‘The Ultimate Playlist of Noise‘ is a sound design marvel with charming performances from its young ensemble that puts recent YA-romance movies to shame. It all revolves around Marcus (Keean Johnson – ‘Euphoria‘), an audio-obsessed high school senior, who learns he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf, and decides to seize control of his fate by recording the Ultimate Playlist of Noise.
Bennett Lasseter makes his feature directorial debut with a script from first time feature film writer Mitchell Winkie, who both have worked on award-winning shorts, but are teaming up for the first time and create something quite magical. Their work gets elevated by main duo Johnson and The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Madeline Brewer, who by the way have amazing on screen chemistry. Reading the synopsis, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this might be a bit of a tearjerker, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that’ll automatically also make your heart melt/soar to unexpected levels.
What makes The Ultimate Playlist of Noise stand out is how believable and sincere the story itself is. This kid has a quest he wants to go on, before his teenage years are over and his life will change forever. His biggest inspiration is his musically talented brother, who passed away years ago in a fire. This not only puts some pressure on the limited time Marcus has left before he has to undergo surgery, but when some unexpected family secrets emerge out of nowhere, the film takes a more serious and depressing tone that’s necessary for us to care even deeper about these characters.
Besides the sound design, the editing is done is a meticulous and inventive way. What did strike me as a little bit of a cliché is Marcus’ voice over when there’s already a lot of on screen text to subtitle American sign language and tick the boxes of his Ultimate Playlist of Noise whenever he comes across a noise he wants to record. This fascinating bucket list does include some interesting finds, such as “the opening of a 100 soda cans at the same time” or “pinball wizardry”. It’s just enjoyable to see how much fun these actors are having on screen, as I can’t imagine they weren’t having an actual good time filming this vibrant and warm story.
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise is a heartfelt drama that hits harder than you’d expect. If this indicates a great year for cinema, then 2021 is off to a great start.
Hulu Review – ‘The Ultimate Playlist of Noise’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Hulu), January 14, 2021. Rating: PG-13. Running time: 99 min.
PRODUCTION: A Hulu release of an American High, LD Entertainment production. Producers: Ryan Bennett, Jeremy Garelick, Mickey Liddell, Will Phelps, Michael Schade, Pete Shilaimon, Nicole Stojkovich. Executive producers: Michael Glassman, Marc Porterfield.
CREW: Director: Bennett Lasseter. Screenplay: Mitchell Winkie. Editing: Robin Gonsalves. Cinematography: Vincent Patin. Score: Erik Schroder.
CAST: Keean Johnson, Madeline Brewer, Oliver Cooper, Emily Skeggs, Carol Mansell, Bonnie Hunt.