Rudy Mancuso and Diego The Puppet
"Rudy Mancuso and Diego The Puppet," Música, directed by Rudy Mancuso, 2024, (Prime Video)

In “Música,” Rudy Mancuso may not reinvent the musical genre but gives something different enough to revive your love for the genre if it has left you jaded.


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Plot Summary

On the verge of graduating college, Rudy finds himself almost as much a puppet as the one he made, Diego. He wants to make his mom, Maria, happy. He wants to make his girlfriend, Haley, happy to avoid conflict.

But then he meets Isabella. Unlike Haley, she doesn’t see him as something he’s not and seeks to understand why Rudy sometimes trails off during difficult conversations. Also, she is Brazilian, so that would make Maria happy.

However, ending things officially with Haley and starting things with Isabella is hard. Haley doesn’t want to let four years go to waste, and she was Rudy’s first real relationship. But Isabella isn’t an escape from Newark, NJ, but rather makes Newark feel like home. Just as much as music makes Rudy feel a bit more sane.

Collected Quote(s)

You’re trying to fix something you are not ready for.
— Isabella

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Good If You Like

  • Musicals that are far more about instruments and sound than people singing
  • Stories with actual diversity, meaning it brings not just the superficial in how people look, but a strong sense of culture (Brazilian in this case)

Similar To This

  1. Tick, Tick… Boom!: Also has a stressed-out person juggling relationships, including a long-term one that seemingly is at its end, and he is pressured to finish a musical.
  2. La La Land: While “Música” may not have huge dance scenes and songs, a similar vibe can make it feel like Rudy Mancuso and Damien Chazelle are peers.

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

Notable Performances or Moments

The Transitions and Set Design

With Rudy Mancuso being a YouTuber, you see a lot of the cuts and transitions that a lot of the homegrown musicians of the platform use. There are quick cuts, including flopping on the bed, and then time suddenly changes or cuts where they haven’t moved, but the world around them shifts.

I don’t know the proper wording; Austin is the director who is far more versed in technical terms. However, I will say that the set design is perhaps the perfect example of Mancuso’s storytelling abilities and theatricality. Like a Broadway musical with a theater that has done extensive updates, there are times you see him continually, almost like what we saw in “Birdman,” go from one scene to another. Whether it is a date with Isabella, one with Haley, talking to Maria, with it seeming the camera never stopping.

Now, it looks simple but the planning of it all honestly renewed my interest in how things are made. Not to the point of wanting to look up interviews and things like that, for what “Música” does is push you to enjoy the magic without having to understand it.

Think of it this way: wasn’t WWF/WWE, Star Wars, Star Trek, and so many other franchises far more interesting when you didn’t know how it worked? “Música” gave that sense of wonder, even if just for an hour and a half, of just enjoying what was there and its wow factor rather than wanting to pick apart how they did this or that.

A Different Kind of Musical

From live performances to movies, admittedly, we enjoy musicals. However, one problem with musicals is that, like any genre, they rely on a formula. There has to be a heart song, an exuberant amount of dancers, a big opening number, a big closing number, and after a certain point, it can feel like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen 90% of anything ever made or that will get produced.

“Música” is different because Rudy sings a bit and one or two other characters; the songs are jokes. Whether it is about how expensive Starbucks is, the beauty of chocolate, or someone in the subway having a very short duet with Rudy about his feelings at any given time, this isn’t a musical about vocals. Rather, because Rudy hears music all around him from random sounds (and has synesthesia), it switches things up.

There are dance numbers, but they come from the sounds of the park, a restaurant, or people on the bus. This switch-up, while potentially small to some, for those jaded by musicals that do the same thing over and over, it revitalizes your love for the genre. Mind you, a lot of it is simple things linked together, and it’s in that simplicity that you find yourself being reminded how beautiful things were when they were stripped back and didn’t need huge budgets in attempts to entertain you.

Highlights

Rudy and Isabella

The beauty of Rudy and Isabella is that, yes, Isabella did far more for Rudy than he ever did for her. However, there was also a recognition he was more in need. It seemed he was still healing from watching his father abuse his mom as a kid, and she might have been the first to realize his drifting off to music was a coping mechanism. To note, she was never told this stemmed from conversations that likely led to violence in his household, but her just putting his head in her hands and helping him refocus was one of the sweetest gestures I’ve seen in a romance movie.

And while Rudy was never the best boyfriend to her, hence why we only have a handful of lines where she talks about herself, it does leave you wanting more in the best way.

Maria

I don’t know how much of Maria Mancuso’s lines were written or ad-libbed, but I do know that you’ll probably be as frustrated as I am to know this is currently the only role she has scheduled for release. The timing, the jokes, the interactions she has with Rudy, make you question how much of this was from their own conversations, are simply Ms. Mancuso in action, or were they made up? What is that household like, truly?

J.B. Smoove

I don’t think since “Pootie Tang,” I have laughed at a line Smoove has done. But as Anwar, the adaptive food truck owner and friend to Rudy, Smoove was comical. I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, but Mancuso and writing partner Dan Lagana brought something out of Smoove I wish more writers could.

Diego, The Puppet

Acting as Rudy’s conscience, Diego makes up for Rudy not really having friends. Yes, he hangs out with Anwar, but Anwar is a 35 to 40-year-old guy, and while Rudy Mancuso is 32 in real life, this is based on him around the end of college, so that makes him in his early 20s. Hence, Diego is the logical friend, even if he is a puppet with his own issues. All of which, like Isabella, are nuggets dropped throughout that make you so badly wish they got to elaborate.

On The Fence

The Love Triangle

Here is the thing about Rudy’s love triangle: it’s the type where you aren’t torn between the options available. Because of this, and the way Haley and her family are painted, it leads to frustration. Isabella is made to be so perfect compared to Haley. Then you bring in the cultural aspect and how being with Haley partly is due to Rudy’s trauma and how he tries to be what others want to keep the peace.

In many ways, you can see there is something deeper to this than a boy with options, but while “Música” avoids the tropes of the musical genre, sadly, it doesn’t bring anything fresh to the stale narrative device of being romantically torn between two people.

Background Information

Film Length 1 Hour 31 Minutes
Date Released April 4, 2024
Where To Watch Prime Video
Director(s) Rudy Mancuso
Writer(s) Rudy Mancuso, Dan Lagana
Genre(s) Comedy

Romance

Young Adult

Musical

Content Rating Rated PG-13
Find It On (External Link To Watch) Prime Video

Content Information

  • Dialog: Cursing
  • Violence: Gun Violence, Family Violence, Blood
  • Sexual Content: None
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking

Character Guide

Character’s Name Actor’s Name
Rudy Rudy Mancuso
Maria Maria Mancuso
Haley Francesca Reale
Isabella Camila Mendes
Anwar J.B. Smoove

Character Description(s)

Rudy

Seeing his father and mother in an abusive relationship as a kid, one could submit that this led not only to Rudy’s aversion to conflict but also him daydreaming and seeing music as a means to make the chaos of the world something soothing. But, with a four-year relationship, the end of college, and a puppet show going nowhere, Rudy may be unable to comfortably coast much longer in life and let others make decisions for him.

Maria
Maria Mancuso and Rudy Mancuso
“Maria Mancuso and Rudy Mancuso,” Música, directed by Rudy Mancuso, 2024, (Prime Video)

Maria is Rudy’s mom, and she raised him on her own since he was a kid. She is an immigrant from Brazil who didn’t know any English when she arrived in America, but now she is a business owner with a salon that is always bustling.

Haley
Rudy Mancuso and Francesca Reale as Haley
“Rudy Mancuso and Francesca Reale as Haley,” Música, directed by Rudy Mancuso, 2024, (Prime Video)

Haley is a young lady who has dated Rudy for four years, and with college ending, she has already planned out the next stage of their lives. However, she hasn’t done so with Rudy’s input and has even begun to tell lies she plans to push Rudy into making the truth.

Isabella
Rudy Mancuso and Camila Mendes as Isabella
“Rudy Mancuso and Camila Mendes as Isabella,” Música, directed by Rudy Mancuso, 2024, (Prime Video)

Isabella is a woman who works at the local fish market. She hasn’t seen her mom since she was 15, and while she isn’t aimless, she doesn’t have lofty dreams. She just wants to enjoy what she does, stay in the neighborhood she considers home, and meet a guy who is ready for what she has to offer as a partner.

Anwar
J.B. Smoove as Anwar
“J.B. Smoove as Anwar,” Música, directed by Rudy Mancuso, 2024, (Prime Video)

Anwar is a man between 35 and 40, a tenant in his mom’s home, but he has a job as a food truck owner, which he takes very seriously. He is also Rudy’s only friend who isn’t a puppet or his mother.


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Música (2024) Movie Review

Summary

While at times the romance suffers from being like many that feels far too male-centered, there is no denying that the music is entertaining, the characters draw you in and leave you wanting more, and “Música” isn’t just content for Prime Video to justify your subscription. The film seems like a culmination of Rudy Mancuso’s work up to this point and leaves you wondering what he will come up with next.

Overall
83%
83%
  • The Transitions and Set Design - 86%
    86%
  • A Different Kind of Musical - 92%
    92%
  • Rudy and Isabella - 83%
    83%
  • Maria - 84%
    84%
  • J.B. Smoove - 82%
    82%
  • Diego, The Puppet - 81%
    81%
  • The Love Triangle - 75%
    75%
Sending
User Review
100/100 (1 vote)

Highlight(s)

  • Diego, The Puppet
  • J.B. Smoove
  • Maria
  • Rudy and Isabella
  • A Different Kind of Musical
  • The Transitions and Set Design

Disputable

  • The Love Triangle

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