Review: Sap-filled 'Ultimate Playlist of Noise' in love with itself

Teen romance presents a playlist of clichés no one asked for

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Like a greatest hits of twee clichés, "The Ultimate Playlist of Noise" is a teen romance with no new material to offer.  

It feels like it was written by a very passionate, very self-satisfied high school junior in an attempt to impress their crush. Hopefully it worked. But there's no avoiding the result is a sappy, pseudo-sensitive reminder of the hopeless melodrama of the adolescent heart. 

Keean Johnson and Madeline Brewer in "The Ultimate Playlist of Noise."

Keean Johnson ("Alita: Battle Angel") stars as Marcus, a music-obsessed high schooler who makes playlists for his friends to fit any mood or situation. Movies love characters like this but they don't exist in real life, especially in an era when the world's history of recorded music is available at everyone's fingertips. (Marcus' usefulness expired in the '90s; hopefully the record store from "High Fidelity" is still hiring.) 

After suffering a seizure, Marcus learns he has a tumor on his brain, the removal of which will cause him to lose his hearing. Before surgery, he embarks on a road trip to record the greatest sounds in life — the wind whirring outside a vehicle traveling at 80 mph, a rolled strike at a bowling alley — so he can remember what it sounds like to be alive.

While we're talking bowling, spare me. It's not just that the premise is so earnest as to be embarrassing, the execution is painfully trite.

Marcus isn't alone on his journey, he's joined by an amateur musician (Madeline Brewer), whom he meets after striking her with his car. Adorable! A deep-rooted family secret is exposed and played for maximum drama, and the emotional climax of the film is staged between two characters walking the wrong way on adjacent escalators. If the movie treated itself any more preciously it would come rolled up in a Fabergé egg. Do yourself a favor and delete this "Playlist."


'The Ultimate Playlist of Noise'


Not rated: Profanity, teenage drinking, mild sexual situations

Running time: 99 minutes

Starts Friday on Hulu