There's no disputing the sincerity with which Steve Sawalich tells the true-life tale of Richard Pimentel, the man more or less behind the Americans With Disabilities Act. His is, without question, a story worth telling: Cocky kid thinks he'll make a great motivational speaker, professor tells him he's "full of shit" and needs to go live a little, kid goes to Vietnam and nearly dies a lot, then returns home all but deaf—the whole world sounds like it's underwater and populated by a billion whistles being blown at once. And Ron Livingston, deadpan batshit in Office Space and stoically heroic in Band of Brothers, is the perfect dude for the role; you want to believe in him. But a little earnestness goes a long way, and Music Within has a little too much of it, down to the casting of Michael Sheen (The Queen's Tony Blair) as the wheelchair-bound savant with cerebral palsy who acts as Richard's muse and conscience. Sheen, like the movie itself, is trying too hard to inspire when the story doesn't need the help.
Livingston: consumed by ADA earnestness.
Opens at Meridian and other theaters, Fri., Nov. 9. Rated R. 96 minutes.