Janie Jones: David Rosenthal’s Father-Daughter Film, Starring Alessandro Nivola and Abigail Breslin

Rocker musician Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) and his band are on the comeback trail when a former flame (played by Elisabeth Shue) drops a “surprise,” actually a bomb, in his lap: their 13-year-old daughter, Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin).  A reluctant father, at first, Ethan, in selfish act of self-denial, refuses to believe that Janie is his kid.

Turning point occurs, when Janie’s mom has to go for rehab, and the girl, with no place to go, jumps onto the tour bus and on the road with the band.

Writer-director David M. Rosenthal claims that he was inspired by his own experiences.  But though a personal film, this father-daughter tale is predictable and in moments both sentimental and emotional. But it’s not about the outcome as about the process, the journey—both literally and figuratively.

There’s some superficial fun to be had: With no feel for fatherhood, Ethan continues his hard-living ways, giving Janie a crash course of the not-so-glamorous life on the road.

But there’s a price to be paid: As Ethan’s self-destructive spiral threatens the group’s future, his band members desert him one by one, until he and Janie are left alone.

What’s a dad, who loves performing, to do: Desperate to finish the tour and revive his dwindling career, Ethan stays on the road as a solo act with Janie.  Surprisingly, Janie shows considerable musical talents, which help guide him toward personal redemption and professional self-esteem.

Nivola, a handsome actor, who had little to do up until now, gives an appealing performance.  But the film belongs to Breslin, who has the moe interesting part.

Quite impressively, both Nivola and Breslin actually sing and perform in the film, which adds to its sense of naturalism and authenticity.

As director, Rosenthal blends the musical setting with road trip movie elements in pleasant and watchable, if not particularly original or subtle ways End result is a barely decent, semi-compelling (but no more) film about the shifting, intricate social dynamics that define his two characters.