Dreamin’ Wild

This music biopic has its heart in the right place.

“Dreamin’ Wild” is the good-natured story about how the famous musician brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson started performing in the 70s, went their separate ways career wise, and reunited when they’re both given the chance to make themselves more well-known. I’ve never heard of these two singers before, but I’m glad this movie introduced me to them.

This is a wake-up call for anyone who needs to appreciate the finer things in life. Movies, music, and restaurants, etc. The list goes on and on, and they can either be popular or less popular. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. The Emerson brothers sure are.

Donnie (Casey Affleck) has a family and runs a record studio with his wife Nancy (Zooey Deschanel) that is up for bankruptcy, while Joe (Walton Goggins) never married and lives alone in the house he built.

Then, Donnie receives a call from Joe, who tells him that a record producer named Matt Sullivan (Chris Messina) is a big fan of their song “Dreamin’ Wild.” The story takes place in 2011, back when social media was slowly taking its time to rule the world, and this family has no internet, so they don’t know what “buzzing” means. But he explains to them that positive word of mouth towards their music has been passed on from one person to the next.

The point is Matt wants to give the brothers the fame that they were neglected of, and to bring their overlooked music out into the world. And their song becomes such a hit, that they both return to playing music

Flashbacks in the film feature Noah Jupe and Jack Dylan Grazer as the teenagers Donnie and Joe, who start recording their album in the 1970s. They have the right kind of high spirits to reach their dreams, but they still have their challenges along the way. Not the rejection challenges that are so typical in movies, but more in a financial and supporting sense.

Their father Don, Sr. (Beau Bridges) is so kind and supportive of their dreams, that he gives up hundred of acres of their family farm for their recording studio.

Unfortunately, there comes a time when a record producer wants to just have Donnie as the solo artist, and that’s when Joe convinces him to take that offer.

And in both time periods, Donnie feels bad about what his father has to do to help him reach his goals.

“Dreamin’ Wild” was written and directed by Bill Pohlad, who also directed “Love & Mercy,” which was about the Beach Boy’s very own Brian Wilson. Both these movies are about famous musicians in two different time periods, and they allow the actors to represent the humanity and troubles inside the real-life characters. And they never take the most obvious approaches.

Affleck and Jupe as Donnie and Goggins and Grazer as Joe are all fine, while Bridges delivers some excellent work as their father. They have memorable scenes of emotions and truth. I like how Affleck and Jupe sit next to each other in the “I was beside myself” analogy, and I love how Bridges has sincerity in his character, especially when he tells his son he regrets nothing.

Even though it could have been given a little more depth to the story, there is still enough love and support for us to really root for the Emerson brothers. There’s even a scene when the real singer show up, and their singing really warms you up. Well-acted and beautifully photographed, “Dreamin’ Wild” has the power to overcome cynicism and allow optimism and loyalty to thrive. It’s a small Indie film with a big heart.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: Biography, Drama, Music

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