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Saturday, April 16, 2011

JANIE JONES

A TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SELECTION

By D.E.Levine

Abagail Breslin, who was the adorable star of Little Miss Sunshine, is a 15-year old teenager now and starring in a sweet film about a teenage girl and her dad going in the indie-rock world.

While the story may have been told before, Janie Jones (Abagail Breslin) appears to be perfectly cast. When Janie's mother Mary Anne Jones (Elizabeth Shue, a drug addict, takes her 13-year old daughter to see singer-songwriter Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola), she announces that Brand is the girl's father.

Brand doesn't remember Ms. Jones and disputes parenting the girl, but Mary Ann disappears leaving a message she'll return for her daughter after she "gets clean" and leaves the teenager behind.

It's obvious that Brand's ego is bigger than his fame and that his career is declining. Mr. Nivola is a fairly decent singer and carries the part reasonably well.

After discovering that his girlfriend Iris (Brittany Snow) who's also his backup singer has cheated on him with the lead guitarist, Brand gets into a brawl that winds up on YouTube. His band deserts him and Brand decides to continue touring as a solo act.

The club circuit is sleazy. The father-daughter duo don't really click until Janie demonstrates musical ability and her father incorporates her into his act.

When Brand lands in jail, the underage Janie illegally drives his car into town and pawns his guitar for bail money.

Overall this is a sweet film that showcases Ms. Breslin and Mr. Nivola well. It loses momentum towards the second half, but is enjoyable along the way.