It has come to the point where I feel I am saying the same things over and over again. But should I expect anything different when every film out there is just a rehashed version of so many things I have seen before? Style, charm and good performances can at least take a movie far enough even if it is an old tale. “Janie Jones” in no way distances it self from the pack, but has enough behind it to keep it afloat.
What feels like a reversed version of “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” with a dash of “August Rush,” “Janie Jones” tells the tale of, well Janie Jones. A 13 year old girl who is the daughter of “famous” rock star, Ethan Brand. Problem is, Ethan doesn’t know she exists and is left in charge of Janie when her mother abandons her at one of his concerts. Ethan has no choice to take Janie on the tour bus with the band; let the bonding begin.
While it takes awhile for Ethan to warm up to Janie and semi-break out of his one way journey down the trappings of the rock and roll life style of alcohol and women, he sure enough comes around; as is expected. Pompous, self involved and arrogant, Alessandro Nivola embodies what I expect to see from a young rising star on the road all too well. Frankly I couldn’t stand watching him, but in a good way of course, because that is what I was meant to expect from the role. Even when surrounded by others, the characters of Ethan and Janie are the only ones that carry this film, it is about them, not just Janie. As the other side of the pair, Abigail Breslin does a fine job keeping the film’s head above water. She is proving that she may have the chops to keep her career moving past the stage of child actor and can switch from sweet to tough as if it was controlled by a switch. From what I also understand, she really is singing at times in this film. If that was really her each time than she has some pipes on her. And if this is true, I beg she does not come out with an album as it will probably be a bunch of generic sappy songs with lyrics written by a 40 year old man who still thinks he is in the 5th grade.
This is ultimately a character driven film that plays too much into a storyline when it doesn’t have to. As things on the road fall apart for Ethan, his main drive is to stay on the road and play shows and make it to his gig at the SXSW festival. It is clear he has no money and needs the gigs to make a name for himself, but his motives are never really expanded beyond that. It is obvious that he needs to be wanted and loved, but that side of the story is not unfolded beyond the idea of just a common bond. Don’t get me wrong, the movie goes there and that is what happens, it just feels like it was buried underneath other things that it didn’t have to be.
“Janie Jones” feels like a tear-jerker that doesn’t have enough power to draw out the tears. It hits its notes when it has to and then moves on back down the road. If a sweet and sentimental story is what you are looking for, then “Janie Jones” will fill your needs, otherwise, you might be looking for another show to spend your money on.