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Review: 'The Ultimate Playlist of Noise' worth hearing

Courtesy of Hulu


Considering the success of “Love, Simon,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and “Clouds,” stories around teenagers facing adversity/discrimination or starring down the barrel of fatal illness’ can make for comfort food entertainment. Bennet Lasseter’s “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise'' warmly fits into that category albeit in a slightly different manner. In this instance, the lead character isn’t struggling with his sexuality or diagnosed with cancer but has a brain tumor that can be successfully removed at the expense of losing their hearing.

So begins the tale of Marcus (played with spunk by Keean Johnson) a music junkie known around school for making dope playlists based on specific events: “The Ultimate Playlist of Breaking Up” or “Facebook stalking” are among the highlights. Of course, he’s got a squad of besties who consistently nag him for being single, overbearing parents worried about his every move following a family tragedy, and he’s facing a crisis.

Marcus has been dealt a huge blow: a brain tumor caught early enough to save his life but one that’ll render him deaf permanently after surgeons remove it. With just under a month before his life changing operation, the music loving teenager concocts one last attempt to hear and create The Ultimate Playlist of Noise. He’ll take a cross-country road trip with a dusty tape recorder and capture live sounds ranging from perfect bowling strikes, cows mooing, and more specifically, 100 soda cans opening at the same time.

As luck would have it (or cheap plot convenience) he picks up a straggler: Wendy (Madeline Brewer) a local musician he saw recently who’s heading towards the east coast. Their journey doesn’t come without some hiccups, but “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise” is a harmless venture that tweaks the teen formula ever so slightly to keep audiences invested in their relationship. The characters are obviously caught between two different worlds, yet their admiration for one another gives “Noise” its charm.

Brewer – known for her stunning work on “The Handmaid’s Tale” – gets to liven up and let loose, unrestrained by a dystopian setting (and she can sing!) Though most of his performance draws unfavorable comparisons to others in the genre, I was impressed at Johnson’s ability to find some groove amid a sea of countless/aforementioned YA dramas all vying for similar eyeballs. “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise '' is riddled with cliché’s, that much we know, but it's worth listening too and sings a meaningful tune.

Grade: B

THE ULTIMATE PLAYLIST OF NOISE debuts on Hulu Friday, January 15th


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