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11 Mar 2014

Home Video Review: Despite an Illogical Setup, 'Grand Piano' Is Grand Fun

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Elijah Wood in Grand Piano. Elijah Wood in Grand Piano.

Elijah Wood (also known as Frodo and one of the movie stars who Tazered Andy Samberg in the anus in the “Threw it On the Ground” video) stars in Grand Piano as Tom Selznick, a pianist who is making his grand return to concert performing five years after botching a rendition of his mentor’s “most unplayable piece.”

While standing offstage, ready to go, a mild-mannered security guard (played by Alex Winter of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) hands him his sheet music (which he had forgotten) and disappears. Tom glances at the sheets—and sees that somebody has written some strange notes in red on the pages.

Those red notes are the setup for a rather clever gimmick: Tom needs to play some extremely difficult piano pieces while somebody alternately aims a rifle at him and his wife (who is sitting in the balcony). The notes in red warn that if he plays one bad note, he will die.

None of this bodes well for Tom’s stage fright.

Tom is also forced to put in an earpiece so his possible assassin can speak to him while he’s playing. That voice is supplied by the one and only John Cusack. I won’t tell you why the Cusack character is torturing Tom onstage; however, I will say that the more I think about it, the more ridiculous the whole setup seems.

Wood does a respectable job of miming piano-playing and making the audience feel sorry for him, while Cusack’s sinister vocals help things along. Yes, the movie is totally illogical, but it’s passable fun nonetheless.

The film is available for rental via online sources including Amazon.com and iTunes.

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