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Review: ‘The High Note’ Falls Flat

May 27, 2020Ben MK

They say never meet your heroes — but what if you're the dogged personal assistant to the same legendary recording artist you happened to idolize as a child? That's exactly the situation 20-something-year-old Maggie Sherwoode (Dakota Johnson) finds herself in.

An aspiring music producer, Maggie has spent the last three years of her life fetching lattes, picking up dry cleaning, and generally being a gofer for high-maintenance music superstar Grace Davis (Black-ish's Tracee Ellis Ross). But despite the seemingly constant disrespect from Grace's longtime manager, Jack (Ice Cube), and her hectic schedule, Maggie still somehow finds the time to pursue her true passion — for unbeknownst to Grace, Maggie has been secretly in and out of the studio putting together her very own cut of Grace's greatest hits live album.

Things take a surprise turn for Maggie, however, when she crosses paths with charming musician David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). After a meet cute where the two walk up and down grocery aisles while debating the artistic integrity of songs with "California" in the title, the pair quickly hit it off, and it's not long before Maggie finds herself helping David produce his own debut album. The question is, how will Maggie's newfound love interest react when he learns that she isn't really the music producer she claims she is? And will Grace ever let Maggie be more than what she hired her to be?

Directed by Nisha Ganatra and written by Flora Greeson, what follows features a stellar supporting cast that includes Bill Pullman, June Diane Raphael, Zoë Chao and Eddie Izzard. But despite the caliber of the acting talent waiting in the wings, the result fails to live up to Ganatra's previous film, Late Night, another similarly-themed comedy drama that also coincidentally highlighted the struggles, stereotypes and blatant gender discrimination faced by women in the entertainment industry.

Instead, the movie offers only fleeting moments of insight into its subject matter. And while the love-hate, mother-daughter chemistry between Johnson and Ross makes for some of the film's best comedic and dramatic moments, it's still not enough to keep The High Note from ultimately falling flat.

The High Note releases May 29th, 2020 from Focus Features. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for some strong language, and suggestive references. Its runtime is 1 hr. 53 min.

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