Frank Fisher runs an honest-to-goodness record store in relatively modern day Brooklyn, and it's about to go under. He's worried, mostly because his daughter Sam is about to go to UCLA for med school, and helping her pay for that is a top priority. He also has a mother with dementia who keeps wandering off and getting arrested. How will all this be resolved?
Well, this movie is really not all that interested in these things. Frank (Nick Offerman) also PLAYS music, and was once in a band with Sam's (Kiersey Clemons) mother. A mother killed a lot of years ago in a cycling accident. Sam also plays some music, and although she's very studious and very into being a doctor, she still indulges her father with occasional "jam sessions." One night, she brings a song she's started writing to one of these sessions. This results in the song "Hearts Beat Loud" to be recorded and Frank uploads it to Spotify, where is makes a modest splash. He's excited about forming a real band with his daughter and seeing what they can make of a musical partnership. She's interested in being a doctor and in spending time with her new girlfriend Rose (Sasha Lane). THIS conflict is the real meat of the story, and even that is truly overcome by the music.
Clemons and Offerman (who knew!) actually perform in this film, and the music they "create" (the songs were written by others) and play together is what makes the movie a charmer. First of all, Offerman is totally convincing as a slightly grump guy who loves music and loves his daughter, and when he gets to combine the two, his sheer delight is transporting. Offerman practically glows, and having enjoyed his flat, grumpy persona for so many years, seeing him expand on that is a joy. This movie is his show, really. Clemons is refreshingly unaffected in her performance, and it's great to see a father/daughter relationship that shows the pair fighting (at times) but not once feeling that the underlying love and commitment is at risk. But while Clemons is quite charming, in my opinion as a middle aged white male, Offerman's performance is the revelation. Others will feel differently...but I think either way would make the film fun. Just watching these two play together and create songs together is really quite lovely. The rest of the "drama" of the film is quite secondary, although the plot points DO need be resolved, and some are resolved more convincingly than others.
The stuff with Offerman's mom (Blythe Danner) really barely registers, except that we see it as yet another pressure on HIM. His relationship with his land lady (Toni Collette, always a welcome presence) waffles between romance and friendship, and will sweet, is not gripping. Offerman does have some nice scenes with his local bartender (Ted Danson...who enlivens almost every effort he's in these days). On the other side, Sam's relationship with Rose isn't terribly gripping either. They are facing the idea that Sam's move to the other coast will doom their relationship, but we have virtually no emotional investment in them as a couple.
SO, in the end, the joys of this movie are simple and light. Watching two charming performers enjoying playing music together and enjoying the TIME spent making music together. It's a delightful and heartening father/daughter relationship. I suppose if there are any revelations beyond "music can be transporting" would be the notion that "fathers and daughters can love each other with ease, despite any dramas that arise." It's nice to see played out and makes the whole film seem cozy. And I really, really enjoyed this lived-in performance from Offerman.
The "plot" and the resolutions of the various conflicts are secondary and never feel terribly important. Some are resolved in a satisfactory way and others are virtually forgotten. It matters because it makes this movie feel somewhat incomplete as a story. But I still recommend going on this journey with these two characters.