Sing Street is a new wave rock & roll fairy tale set in early '80s Dublin. Fans of quality nostalgia fare like Freaks & Geeks will revel in its references.

A fifteen-year-old boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) seeks to escape the harsh reality of his brutal schoolmasters and splintering home. Under the tutelage of his hash-smoking, dole-surfing older brother, he discovers Duran Duran videos and Cure albums. In an effort to woo an aspiring model named Raphina (Lucy Boynton), the young man conspires to start a band of his own. She gives him the stage name Cosmo and agrees to style and star in all of the band's no-budget videos.

The group is a rag tag assembly of students with little talent or concept, played more than admirably by mostly unknown Irish actors, and the story is about as believable as Almost Famous or School of Rock. But that's not the point.

This film fondly recalls John Hughes, tips its hat to Wes Anderson, and repeatedly nods to Back to the Future and "Thriller." Aside from a touch too much sentimentality in the third act, Sing Street is a heartwarming achievement in the modern (retro) rock musical canon that is only held back from a place on the top shelf because it stands on the shoulders of giants to reach there.

Critic's Grade: A