MUSIC WITHIN (Steven Sawalich). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (November 9). Rating: NN
Ron Livingston specializes in playing charismatic assholes. He was the head shit-disturber in Office Space, but he's probably most reviled as Berger, the motorcycle-riding author who broke up with Carrie via a Post-it note in Sex And The City.
Here he plays ornery real-life guy Richard Pimentel, who loses his hearing in the Vietnam War, then goes on to champion the rights of the disabled, helping to spearhead the Americans With Disabilities Act.
But before Pimentel achieves that, he must, over a couple of decades, overcome his personal demons, which include a dysfunctional family and near-crippling commitment and self-esteem issues.
Helping him along the way are his sexually liberated girlfriend (Melissa George) and his college pal (Michael Sheen), who has cerebral palsy and is brilliant, sarcastic and (therefore) instantly lovable.
With its B-list cast - oh, Hector Elizondo plays a professor on lithium - and heavy-handed (if worthy) message, Music Within belongs on TV as a movie of the week. And even then, you'd channel surf.
The plot points are all obvious, the attempts at aging Pimentel, et al., non-existent, and there are lots of incongruities, like having a Chuck Palahniuk book on Pimentel's bookshelf before it was even published.
So strong is Livingston's slacker persona that he's unconvincing as a responsible adult. He can do sheepish guilt with no effort, but you simply don't believe him as a reformed and redeemed hero.
He'll always be an asshole.