On paper, Hearts Beat Loud looks fantastic: It stars Nick Offerman as Frank, the owner of a struggling Brooklyn record store and the single father of Sam (Kiersey Clemons, of Dope and Transparent), who’s romancing her first girlfriend while preparing to move to the West Coast for college. It’s even got Toni Collette as Frank’s landlord/love interest and Ted Danson as his friend and permanently stoned bartender!
But the crux of the weak dramedy is Frank’s unfolding midlife crisis—he’s widowed, his business is failing, his daughter is going away for school—and his desire to transform casual jam sessions with the musically gifted Sam into a real band (called, naturally, We’re Not a Band).
It’s cute, it’s “quirky” (ugh), and it’s boring as hell, with hollow dialogue and a plot that shuffles along like an old, tired dog. Forced references to Spotify playlists and hip indie bands like Animal Collective only make matters worse.
The film’s biggest disappointment is the amount of wasted talent, especially when it comes to Offerman. (If you get bummed out about how unfunny his character is, I suggest watching comedian Megan Mullally’s strange, wonderful Instagram videos of him as an antidote.)
It’s redeemed slightly by Clemons, who’s magnetic just about every time she steps on-screen, and her budding love story, which depicts queer characters in a way that actually feels like it could be real, for once.
But taken as a whole, Hearts Beat Loud feels like an unnecessary marriage of High Fidelity and that John Mayer song “Daughters.” It’s not bad, but it’s definitely bland.