The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, a film written by Mitchell Winkie and directed by Bennett Lasseter, was released this week as a Hulu original film. The story centers around Marcus (Keean Johnson), an audio-obsessed high school senior. After having a seizure on a night out, Marcus learns that he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf. Deciding to take control of the situation, he embarks on a trip to record what he calls the “Ultimate Playlist,” which is a collection of all his favorite sounds. On his journey, he meets Wendy (Madeline Brewer), a struggling musician who is trying to reach New York City for a life-changing opportunity. The two of them decide to team up and record the playlist as they make their way across the country. However, dark secrets and painful revelations force Marcus to deal with his past and what his future will be like without sound.
After watching the trailer for The Ultimate Playlist of Noise and understood its premise, I was immediately intrigued. While other films that focus on the main character having an illness and going on a life-changing journey isn’t necessarily a new idea, recording a playlist of different noises puts a unique twist on it. It puts the attention on the inevitable loss that Marcus will be forced to deal with while also showing how much he truly appreciates sound. In addition, a lot of the film’s emotional elements are kept out of the trailer, which helped form a much more personal connection. With the current state of the world at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising if the film makes viewers reflect upon what matters most to them, much like what Marcus does throughout the entirety of the film.
One of the main worries that I had while watching The Ultimate Playlist of Noise was that Wendy would end up being categorized into the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” (MPDG) trope would. For those who aren’t familiar with the trope, it describes a girl who solely exists to teach men to embrace life and all it has to offer. By the term’s definition, Wendy would have been the one to help Marcus through his journey of being okay with losing his ability to hear and embrace life for what it is. For the first half of the film, it seemed like this would be the case. However, the film does an incredible job of turning this around and making it clear that Marcus would have to be the one to go through this journey alone. Wendy became his support system but also had her own struggles to deal with. Establishing this element into their friendship made it much more authentic and unique rather than something that would fall under films that rely on the MPDG.
While The Ultimate Playlist of Noise does an incredible job in terms of fleshing out its main characters and Marcus’s mom (Carrie Louise Putrello). That said, its other side characters serve no real purpose to the film’s story. Marcus’s best friends and his dad are meant to be an additional support system for him but don’t really get their moment to be there for him. After the first few minutes of the film, they become forgettable background characters. They resurface at the end of the film, but by then it’s too late for their characters to make any real impact on the story. Had Marcus’ best friends accompanied on the film or even if his dad had an important scene with him, I would have cared more about their characters. A lot of this could have possibly been corrected had the film been changed into a limited series. That way, their characters would have had more moments to show support for Marcus, and more could have been added to the story as a whole.
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise is an enjoyable watch. With its intriguing premise and the use of a unique element to make the premise stand out, every moment of Marcus’ journey was incredible to watch. With the film’s premise, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope could have been a dominant element in the story. Fortunately, Wendy became her own character while also being the person who wanted to help Marcus accomplish his goal. However, the film could have benefited much more by fleshing out its side characters and not making them seem as unnecessary to the story. In the end, The Ultimate Playlist of Noise offers a unique story that audiences will enjoy watching.
The Ultimate Playlist of Noise is streaming now, exclusively on Hulu.