Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Abigail Breslin and Alessandro Nivola in Janie Jones

{Janie Jones opens in Seattle on Friday, 10/28 and is screening at SIFF Cinema at The Uptown

There are no shortage of films dealing with estranged father/daughter relationships, especially in the indie realm – so I was naturally a bit apprehensive about taking a look at Janie Jones: the story of a selfish rocker who gets his 13-year-old daughter dumped directly into his lap. 

But! This one has a fantastic cast – Abigail Breslin as the daughter, Janie; Elisabeth Shue as her junkie mom, Alessandro Nivola (rawwwrrrr) as her struggling rock star dad, and a great back-up cast with Peter Stormare, Joel David Moore, Brittany Snow, and Frank Whaley (I will heart this guy forever because of Career Opportunities). 

Anyway, it turned out to be alright, mainly because Ms. Breslin has some pretty amazing pipes (who knew?). 

Trainwreck of a mom Mary-Ann (Shue) piles her daughter Janie into a car so she can finally meet her "famous" rock star dad, Ethan Brand (Nivola). Except, you know, when they get to the bar, it turns out that Ethan didn't know anything about his daughter…and honestly, doesn't even remember Mary-Ann. After she proposes that he take care of Janie while she "goes to rehab", Ethan says some pretty cruel shit to her, which then causes her to bail and leave her daughter a bar in the middle of nowhere. 

Janie (who is, of course, wise beyond her years) calls the cops, but when they get there it's revealed that Ethan's name is on the birth certificate, so between that and some clever manipulation from the cop that arrives ("She'll be put in crappy foster care for the rest of her life, man!"), it's decided that Janie will join the band on the rest of the tour. Yeah, I thought was pretty far-fetched also, but ok. 

Nobody thinks this is a good idea, except Janie…kind of. Because everyone knows Ethan is a giant narcissistic asshole whose fame faded long ago, and who is drinking his way through every performance until he gets to his precious: a coveted spot at SXSW.

And then, surprise! It turns out that Janie is a musician too – and quite a good one. Which simultaneously  fills Ethan with pride and jealously. After a drunken outburst, the rest of the band packs it in, leaving Ethan and Janie on their own. Queue the father/daughter road-trip bonding! 

There are a few surprises along the way, but of course this ends up exactly the way you're thinking. I'd still recommend seeing it – if only for a nice, pretty, cinematic piece with some really sold acting. And those pipes! Breslin can really sing, I mean REALLY. SING. It's so weird to look at her in this film and realize that the goofy little girl in Little Miss Sunshine is all grows up. 

I wonder how long it will be before she releases an album?