New Eared Steve: A Film Review | Cam Dang

Cam Dang delivers on the promise of a Ferrell review.


New Eared Steve: A Film Review

By Cam Dang

For The New Eared Steve Award

If you enjoyed ‘Stranger than fiction’ and ‘Everything must go’, don’t miss ‘New Eared Steve’. A drama with a dash of comedy, this is another movie that proves Will Ferrell is more that just a silly face.

The plot is simple, but you know what most writers say: simple plot, complicated characters. Ever since getting his ear rinsed out at the hospital, Steve, a man who turned suicidal after losing his family, had been hearing a voice. The idea is similar to that in ‘Stranger than fiction’, but the difference is the voice in ‘New Eared Steve’ did not narrate a man’s life – it spoke to him. Before long Steve realised the voice belonged to James, his father whom he had never met. James asked that he gave it one year following his advice, after which he would get out of his ears, and Steve agreed.

For the tormented hero that he portrayed, Will Ferrell has proven yet again his dramatic acting skill. I instantly liked Steve from the opening scene in which he stepped in to save a boy from his abusive stepfather at a train station, and took a beating for it. But as the next scene rolled on and he continued to get himself into troubles, it was clear the man had a death wish. The audience was told of the reason straight away, which was a great move: Steve then had our undivided attention and sympathy or empathy to what he was trying to do, and as we understood his motive, we were able to laugh louder, and cry harder for the man.

Newcomer Victoria Rose put on an outstanding performance with her take on Emily, Steve’s love interest. Intelligent and not afraid to show her silly side, Emily easily stole the scene every time she was on. Ralph Fiennes, who lent his voice to James, was a true delight to the ears. Of course, his English accent did not escape its fate – it’s not comedic until someone starts mimicking someone else’s voice.

With such strong performances from a fantastic cast, the biggest star of the show, however, was Kathy Bates. Kathy played Anne, Steve’s mother, an offbeat woman who drove her son mad with her insecurity and absurd guilt trips, who brought him back with her unconditional love, and who in the process of trying to save him also found herself a new purpose to life. I will always remember the way she made me feel as the plot came full circle and she reached out for him as a desperate, broken, and selfless mother. At that moment I just wanted to walk out of the cinema and call my mother to tell her I love her, but then I realised she was sitting right next to me.

Throughout the movie the main characters were given generous space to channel through their hopes for better days, their struggles to keep such hopes going, and what they had to do to achieve them, or in some cases, run away from them. And as the twist finally unfolded itself, there were not many dry eyes in the room.

The music soundtrack of ‘New Eared Steve’ features such songs about new beginnings as Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling good’ and Sting’s ‘Brand new day’. Kathy Bates also did a cover of ‘What a wonderful world’, which her character sang as a message to Steve: when all is lost, look around and find beauty in all things. The song is also about hopes for a better future into which babies are born, and for such reason it is perfect for the ending: just like most mothers, Anne believed a bright future awaited her son if he just gave it a chance; and just like Steve, we will never cease to be the children of our mothers.

‘New Eared Steve’ will strap you in on an emotional roller coaster ride, front seat. As the credits roll, if you’re like me, you’ll smile and remember what Anne said to Steve:

‘Tragedy is joy’s meth.’