Bursting with great music and a fresh sense of getting out on the road, Janie Jones is a sweet family drama with just the right amount of rock ‘n roll edge. In a role that shows her maturing into an impressive young actress, Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) plays a girl torn between her unpredictable mother and the father she never knew.
Mary Ann Jones (Elisabeth Shue) drags around her thirteen-year-old daughter Janie (Breslin) as she tracks down Janie’s father backstage at a rock concert. In a scene played for all the awkwardness, humour and pathos it deserves, she confronts the lead singer, Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola). Mary Ann is no groupie – at least, not anymore – but she announces that Ethan is Janie’s father. He rebuffs her as one more unhinged rock chick, but before he can call security, Mary Ann has disappeared and Ethan is left staring into the eyes of a suddenly motherless young girl.
The singer has other things commanding his attention – his band is on tour and he refuses to accept that he could actually be the father of this young girl. After a call to Child Services, he starts to feel sorry for Janie. There’s nothing for it but to put Janie on the tour bus, and thus begins a most unlikely, tumultuous and life-changing road trip.
As Ethan struggles with personal problems that threaten the band’s survival, he finds himself spending more and more time with Janie. He even begins teaching her guitar. Along the way, Janie shows herself to be much more than an extra piece of baggage, proving to be smart, self-sufficient and musically talented. But he’s not ready to be called Dad just yet.
Nivola is always interesting to watch onscreen, and it’s his transformation that forms the spine of the story. But Breslin is its heart. Blessed with a vast emotional range and an ability to connect immediately with the camera, she makes Janie Jones feel like a real and complex girl. Though this relationship between daughter and father rises and falls as they get to know one another, these actors invest the story with chemistry, music and passion. —TIFF