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  • Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin), a 13 year-old girl is with her mother and they are off to meet her father. Except her mother (Elisabeth Shue) is a whore-like drug- addicted loser who's abandoning her daughter. And her father (Alessandro Nivola) is a fading rock-and-roll star who has no idea he has a daughter, let alone any intention of being a father to one. "Janie Jones" the film and each of the characters pick all the right notes.

    It's a fairly subtle drama about a young girl who doesn't want to be left on her own but knows how to take care of herself; and a father who doesn't seem to have the first clue about how to take care of himself, but with the arrival of Janie, he might try for her sake. Similar movies have been done before, but this one is a bit more subtle in their actions even if the plot points are the same. I whole-heartedly enjoyed each of the choices they made to the move the film along.

    Ethan, the father, is a rock singer desperate to cling on to the notoriety that comes with being a band leader. As you can guess, his career isn't going so well. One of the excellent elements of the film was choosing softer, folk songs when he's actually playing music for us, or for his daughter. And, even better, it really is Nivola playing the guitar. A talented musician, he was in bands throughout high school and university.

    More excellent choices were made in the casting and characterizations. Brittany Snow has managed to stay just in the shadows of the Hollywood spotlight her whole career despite her cute, blonde looks. I'm assuming that has something do with the fact that even though she is a cute blonde, either her characters have had a dark side or the films have had a dark side. I've always admired that about her. This marks the first time she's not playing a teenager. And her character, named Iris, who appears to be a whore-like drug-addicted loser on the arm of Ethan, isn't exactly as she appears to be. Frank Whaley, playing Ethan's band-mate, steals the few scenes he's in by adding some touching comedy to the drama.

    Nivola and Breslin are the stars and despite their age and background differences, they never went over-the-top around each other. They both played their characters with the subtlety required. The scenes of just the two of them were cute but never showy; they held our hearts the whole way. I've always loved Nivola and have appreciated everything he has done. Breslin has made the right choice by returning to her indie roots, showing how she has matured and keeping the comedy in check.

    "Janie Jones" has flown under the radar, I'm assuming because it has chosen quieter tones, but they are the right ones.
  • The plot line of JANIE JONES has been used many times before - estranged child forced to live with runaway parent provides growth for both - but this story is apparently based on a true incident and perhaps that is one of the reasons it becomes rather endearing. Written and directed by David Rosenthal this somewhat overly long film works well and that is in no small art due to the sensitive casting.

    Tattooed, alcoholic, almost has been rock and roll performer Ethan (Alessandro Nivola) tours with a mediocre band headed by manager Sloan (Peter Stormare) who somehow manages to keep things together for the band - Dave (Joel David Moore), singer and Ethan's girl friend Iris (Britanny Snow), Chuck (Frank Whaley), and Ulysses (Michael Panes). The band has been together for years and now is forced to play the sleazy nightclubs who will book second rate acts. Into this worn down group comes a surprise - Ethan's old squeeze Mary Ann Jones (Elisabeth Shue) whom Ethan hasn't seen for 13 years arrives on the scene with Ethan's 13- year-old daughter Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin). Ethan doesn't even remember Mary And nor does he buy the fact that he fathered a child, but Mary Ann has the birth certificate to prove it: Mary Ann is drug addict and can no longer care for Janie while she attempts to dry out so she literally dumps Janie with the reluctant Ethan and disappears. The remainder of the film is a struggle Ethan has at being unable to cope with life in general, the disbanding of the band because of Ethan's sociopathic behavior, Ethan's arrest and Janie's method of bailing him out when no one else will, falling downhill as a musician, and coping with the fact that Janie is around. The gradual interaction between Ethan and Janie demonstrates the difficulties of father-daughter bonding, but it also awakens in each of them the concept of being noticed, needed, and loved.

    Both Alessandro Nivola (one of our finest actors today) and Abigail Breslin bring a depth of acting skills to these rolls. They are wholly credible and have our hearts all the way through. The smaller roles (including Frances Farmer as Ethan's wealthy mother form whom he is able to get funding because of Janie's presence as her granddaughter) are well written and beautifully acted. The film relies a lot on music and Nivola and Breslin sing and pay their own musical contributions. Yes the story may be tattered from over use, but the strength of the film is well worth the viewer's interest and time. Grady Harp, November 11
  • I don't understand this low rating. Completely believable- very well acted, directed, written. Abigail Breslin was so natural and lovely, Alessandro Nivola (Why doesn't he work more?) absolutely pitch perfect, Peter Stormare created a nuanced manager needing to support creatives in trouble and still make money, Frank Whalley is always awesome, Francis Fisher doing another sophisticated turn as an intelligent, cold woman who wants to warm up-all wonderful. The music affecting and unusual. Having been personally behind the scenes for independent music work- spot on. I guess this is what is called a sleeper- but I advise that you try it for the family/responsibility/addiction/creative ideas. See this movie- you won't regret it.
  • This movie is about a down and out rock star who learns that he has a 13 year old daughter by a drug-addicted ex-groupie, whom, sadly, he doesn't remember. (The story has actually been done before in a terrible 1984 movie (the story line of which was suggested by 'Mick Jagger' (qv) entitled _Blame It on the Night (1984)_ (qv).) Fortunately, that's where the similarity ends as this is a much better film, with respect to both writing and acting. All performances are solid and credible and the viewer doesn't feel (at least as measured by the reaction of the audience at the Tribeca Film Festival) he wasted the price of admission. Ironically, the weakest part of the film is the music: the songs performed are so poor one wonders how the lead character could have become a rock sensation in the first place.
  • meghensley2025 February 2014
    I saw this film for the first time in a little theater in Des Moines, Iowa called The Varsity. It is one of my favorite spots. I thought that it was only right that I see it in an Iowa theater since thats where it was shot. A lot of my friends had worked on this and I was excited to see it! Overall I thought that the story was pretty good. I really felt for abigail's character. She is always so great in everything she does. I also heard that she was a joy to be around, so that probably helped too! This films progression was done really well. The character development was awesome! The only thing I would change would be how quickly we get to the end. I wish that I could've been led a little longer. Anyways, great film. Proud to have it shot in Iowa!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Okay, so the movie is far from reality and never likely to have incidents such as depicted in this movie transform in real life. Now that I got that out of the way I will tell you what my wife and I thought were the highlights of this melodrama.

    The relationship that evolves gradually between the two main characters, missing father and roadie rocker Ethan Brand, (Alessandro Nivola), and lost 13 year old daughter Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin), takes place as Janie's drug induced mother Mary Ann Jones (Elisabeth Shue) literally dumps her daughter on unsuspecting rocker bastard father Ethan as he is travelling through the U.S. on his tour bus with his band. Ethan initially rejects the notion that Janie is his daughter, and his emotions get the better of him, as does the booze, as one by one he fights with members of his own band until all that is left on the road is Ethan and his daughter Janie. One of the first relationships to disintegrate and he loses is that of his band member and girlfriend, Iris, played by Brittany Snow. Even his long time road manager, Sloan, played by Peter Stormare, realizes the gig is past its heyday and he decides to move on to greener pastures.

    So with only guitar and daughter in tow Ethan is forced to play the bar scene to a much smaller audience who does not show the appreciation for his musical talents that Ethan is used to receiving. Spiraling continually downward Ethan boozes it up, until fighting with the local rowdies eventually lands him in the slammer. Now what to do Janie? She's 13 years old stuck in a motel with her dad in the slammer. So Janie uses her intuition and driving skills to somehow get her dad out of jail. Not wanting to spoil the plot any further I will say that the next few scenes are a bit unrealistic but heartwarming for any father and daughter relationship to grow,

    Janie appears to have some musical talent of her own, and with her dad sobering up real quickly they visit dear old mom for a small loan to get them the start up money needed to get back on the road as a duo. Frances Fisher plays Lily, grandmother to Janie, who gets to meet her grand daughter for the first time. Relationships are starting to form, the musical talents between Ethan and Janie are melding, and then dear old drug addicted mom, Mary Ann (Elisabeth Shue) comes back in to the picture.

    Okay, so dysfunctional families are part of our culture and always will be, but when heroes come to the rescue and music that warms our heart mellows us, we transform in to a loving family unit that enjoys a good picture even if the story line is not the strongest. I think this is a movie for families to watch and enjoy assuming that your children are well in to their teens. Spoiler alert moms and dads: At the end of the movie, you will be obligated to hug your daughters and tell them you love them even if they have caused you some grief lately. (Or maybe you have caused them some grief?) Either way it is a good watch for the music and warmth that evolves between daughter and father.
  • Very well acted and solid story line. Actors worked very well together with believable emotion.well directed...flowed well Breslin was exceptional Story believable Good locations Interesting sequences Strong emotions Great music Solid singing Connects with audience...will go to see it again. I will encourage others to go see also. Music flowed very well in the story line. Janie Jones character could have more negative qualities to make her more believable. Movie will be popular with multiple age segments. Girls under 18 will connect with the main character easily. Sequel might be interesting to see how Janie Jones character grows up. I plan to take family members to the film. Goos family picture. Sound track should be popular especially with teen girls.
  • "I don't have a kid. I never even met this woman." Janie's (Breslin) mom (Shue) is having a rough time and is trying to get herself into rehab. She decides to finally introduce Janie to her rock star father (Nivola) in hopes that he will take care of her. When told of what would happen if he refuses, Ethan decides to take her. While on tour the band and Ethan's life begin to fall apart. I had pretty high expectations for this one because I really enjoyed "August Rush". While I like that the actors did their own singing this was not as good as "August Rush" was. I did really enjoy this movie though and highly recommend it but for those that have seen "August Rush" be prepared. The acting and story are very good but also extremely predictable, in most movies that hurts it, but this one still keeps you watching. If you like movies that are about music then this is a good one to check out. Overall, not as good as "August Rush" but still very much worth watching. I give it a B.
  • The lead character is excellent in this movie. I thought she was a very sweet young girl with a lovely singing voice too. They could have developed her character more, but then it probably would have overpowered the other characters in this ensemble movie. I liked it, even though it started out rather slow.

    Like another reviewer, I too think there could be a good sequel set 'five years later'. Enjoyable, 'almost' family movie, not quite... too much pot smoking.

    Elizabeth Shue must have had some money invested in this movie, because she didn't have a big part. It was almost like a 'pilot' for a TV series, actually. I loved it when the girl says she learned how to bail out her dad by watching "Dog the Bounty Hunter",
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I managed to see this on Netflix streaming movies. There is way too much coarse language, way too much, but for viewers who can get past that, a good story.

    Elisabeth Shue is Mary Ann Jones, battling drug and alcohol abuse and losing the battle. She has a 13-year-old daughter, Abigail Breslin as Janie Jones. Since she is the title of the movie that might lead to the conclusion that it is about her. And it is, but also about her dad that she never met, and who didn't even know he had a daughter.

    Alessandro Nivola is the dad, Ethan Brand , and also a somewhat famous musician and singer whose luster seems to be fading fast. He is the main attraction to the musical group, using a bus to tour for gigs, but he has become very difficult. This threatens and eventually destroys the group.

    Mary Ann finds Ethan, springs on him that Janie is his for an encounter 14 years ago, and while he is singing in a night spot, she skips out to leave Janie with Ethan. And that is what the movie is about, Ethan learning to accept Janie, while she explores her own guitar-playing, song-writing, and singing. Over the period of a bit more than 90 minutes Ethan comes to grips with his bad behavior and learns to care about more than just himself.

    I enjoyed it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this movie.

    If you talk to people who have seen this movie, or read reviews, you will likely hear two things: 1: The story is an old one (cliche even) and 2: The ending is predictable.

    To be honest, this is absolutely true. And yet, you should watch this movie. It really is completely wonderful. The technical aspects of the movie are excellent; the acting, script, cinematography, etc... There are EXCELLENT actors and actresses in this movie.

    My one complaint, if you can really call it that, is the profanity. The language at times was such that I couldn't watch this with my 11 year old daughter. However, to be fair, the profanity wasn't 'gratuitous' in any way. The male lead character is a rock and roll star on tour. As such, things like drinking, drugs, sex, and profanity are expected. To portray a rock and roll band touring small clubs across the country without the use of profanity would make it unreal like a Disney film.

    The bottom line is this, This is a great movie. It will disturb you a little, break your heart a little, and then warm your heart GOBS.

    I recommend this movie, big time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Filled with recognizable actors, this movie - to me - verges on great. The story is - unfortunately - too believable. A crack head mother abandoning her child, a washed up musician, a band together past their expiry date. Probably a tale acted out in real life - daily. Shue has the crack/alcoholic/hooker/or groupie role down pat - but - not to diminish from her acting - and - I think she looked great for very late 40's! Breslin is - again in this role as so many of her others - an actor who I think will be amongst the greats. It is always a pleasure watching Peter Stormare, although he is best as a villain - here - he isn't - but is a great character actor - from Sweden. The remainder of the cast are uniformly superb - a few are on hit TV shows in the past couple of years. All in all, this film just seemed - real.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the touching story of a hard living wannabe rock star rapidly approaching middle age and his 13 year old daughter, who he didn't even know existed, showing up while he and his rock group are touring. I found this movie to be very good with an excellent sound track. Many of the songs are performed live and filmed as they are sung and played. I love this movie and if you like to feel tremendous emotions that make you cry this movie is for you. I love when movies reach down into my soul and pull and tug until I am forced to submit to what I'm feeling and I just burst out with sobs. If you are a father of a daughter you will understand what I'm expressing. If you don't have kids, you might not feel much on an emotional level but you most likely will enjoy the high quality acting performances that are captured and also the beautiful songs that you will hear.
  • I watched this because I like songwriting,road pictures, and the lead guy as an actor. But I couldn't stick with it. I left at the 3/4 mark. It was like watching a documentary of a no-talent loser strumming a guitar in bars. How long can you do that? OK Indie film world. There are a lot of Godless waste-oids floating around the states and the world. We get it already.

    Was this supposed to be summer time? No one was cold, there was no snow in the Heartland, and the kid was not in school. No one ever mentions school. They could have at least acknowledged what season it is. Where is she from? Elisabeth Shue would have been 46 when this was filmed. Thirteen years prio, she would have been 33. Isn't that a bit old for a groupie? Especially since she is eight years older than the lead guy in real life.

    I guess it was good that the music sucked, because then you can see why the guys is struggling and not famous anymore.I give credit for not dubbing in some soundtrack. The lead guy looks so much like Chris Martin of Coldplay by the way. We are to assume that years ago, with a full band, he sounded good and had a knack for writing poignant lyrics.

    Nivola (the lead) played his role with soul, as he always does. The little girl did well by not pushing any stereotypes of the jaded kid or the precocious one.

    I just didn't know where this was going,or maybe I knew all too well, and that's why I abandoned it.

    I don't recommend it to anyone. It's slower than molasses, and it's hard to root for anyone, other than the kid. Having said all that, it never stooped to sleaziness or preaching, and didn't slam you over the head with an Indie soundtrack to the non-musical scenes.