By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
There is a lot to like about the new, music drama "Dreamin' Wild"
from director/screenwriter Bill Pohlad
("Love & Mercy" and "12 Years a Slave").
For starters, it's based on a true story. It also features a dynamic cast led by Casey Affleck ("Oppenheimer" and "Manchester by the Sea"), Zoey Deschanel, (TV's "Physical") and Walton Goggins (TV's "Fallout" and "George & Tammy").
Like many teens growing up in the 1970s, Donnie Emerson (Noah Jupe, "A Quiet Place: Part II") and his brother Joe (Jack Dylan Grazer, "Shazam!" and "It: Chapter Two") were into music and even formed a band. They would have loved to become huge stars, but at the time their playing was out of love for the music and really just for the fun of it.
Donnie and Joe's parents, Don Sr. (Beau Bridges, "A Christmas Mystery") and Salina (Barbara Deering, "Ingress") saw how dedicated their boys were. The teens wrote and arranged their own songs. So, they decided to help them as much as they could. They built a state-of-the-art $100,000 recording studio at their home/farm in Fruitland, Washington so they could record and do their thing.
In 1979, Donnie and Joe even released their first self-produced album, "Dreamin' Wild," on their own Enterprise & Co. label. It was a mixed bag of rock, soul, R&B/funk, and country music, but it flopped. The failed album made Donnie and Joe question if they were cut out for a music career. It also caused a rift between them.
Fast forward 30 years, and Donnie (an excellent Casey Affleck) and Joe (the dynamic Walton Goggins) have gone their own way and barely stayed connected over the years.
Then the strangest thing happens. A record label executive named Matt Sullivan (a terrific Chris Messina, "The Boogeyman" "Air") arrives out of nowhere at their parent’s farm and tells them his label wants to re-release Donnie and Joe's album, "Dreamin' Wild. This has to be a joke because no one has even talked about Donnie and Joe's album in like forever.
It's no joke.
Apparently, a record collector came across the "Dreamin' Wild" album at an antique shop in Spokane, Washington. He raved about it, and it later got a ton of radio airplay and garnered huge interest. Just like that, a whole new audience is suddenly digging the Emerson Brothers.
Matt brings the family together and tells them that people really want to see the guys perform together on tour. Donnie thinks it's too good to be true and that there's a catch. He's been working as a part-time wedding singer and operates a recording studio with his supportive wife, Nancy (a wonderful Zooey Deschanel, TV's "Physical"). They can barely make ends meet.
Donnie never thought in his wildest dreams that at this stage of his life, he'd be pulled back into the music business. As for Joe, well, he totally gave up on music and has been working full time on the farm. He can't remember the last time he touched the drums.
Yet, when Matt explains that there's money to be made with the re-released album and tour, the guys decide to try and put their differences aside and make it work. However, so much has transpired between Donnie and Joe that it's not all smooth sailing along the way.
It's easy to sympathize with Donnie and Joe. Both are vulnerable and have been hurting all these years for their "failure." It's hard for them now to accept how much their parents sacrificed for them and not have their dream turn out as big and bold as they had hoped.
"Dreamin' Wild" does an excellent job showing through flashbacks their journey as innocent kids and how their lives unfold as adults.
Like the great soul music group, The O'Jays said, "Music is the healing force of the world." When Donnie and Joe start to rehearse, the music brings back good memories and in many ways is cathartic. It forces them to address and reconcile the deep-seated issues that ultimately made them grow apart.
"Dreamin' Wild" is not a flashy or overly dramatic movie, but it's a deeply emotional one about the importance of family, forgiveness, and taking chances. I highly recommend it.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.
Look At This Trailer For "DREAMIN' WILD"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.