Alessandro Nivola and Abigail Breslin can elevate just about any piece of dramatic material, even when comes to portraying convincing singer/songwriter types. Still, their efforts don't sufficiently pull up director David M. Rosenthal's hackneyed imaginings about a rock ‘n’ roll band frontman confronted with a 13-year-old daughter he didn’t know he had. Nivola plays Ethan Brand, an alt rock narcissist who gets charged with custody of his daughter Janie Jones (yes, named after the Clash song—now go away). Shameless mommy (Elisabeth Shue) needs time to clean up in rehab. Given his temper-driven tendency for self-destruction it’s impossible to see how Ethan has held his lame band together for 15-years, much less managed to make any kind of living, touring around the country playing dive bar gigs booked by his well-meaning manager (Peter Stormare). Little Janie takes after dad in the singer/songwriter department. The conceit of the movie is that Breslin does a decent job of singing and playing guitar. A few nicely performed father/daughter duets provide the only narrative meat there is on the bones of Rosenthal’s sketchy script. The musical set pieces aren’t enough reason to see “Janie Jones,” but at least there’s some payoff for an otherwise dismal excuse for a story.
Not Rated. 107 mins. (C) (Two Stars - out of five/no halves)
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