The Neon Highway Review – Heartwarming, Captivating, Strong Performances

The Neon Highway, from Mountain Movies, presents a compelling, feel-good film, as a washed-up country singer meets a young singer-songwriter whose dreams died seven years earlier, after a horrific car crash, just seconds before they took flight.

The film opens as Wayne Collins, a young singer/songwriter, played by Rob Mayes, and his brother, Lloyd Collins, played by TJ Powers, are playing a showcase in Nashville. When the gig is over, the two representatives explain that they want him, and not his brother.

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On the ride home, Wayne explains to Lloyd, they don’t want him, they only want me. The conversation distracts Wayne, who is driving, and another car swerves in front of the jeep, and to avoid a head on collision he is forced off the road, and Lloyd is thrown from the jeep, hits the pavement, hard, as a semi is barreling right toward him. The scene is shocking.

The film then jumps seven years ahead. Wayne never made it to the meeting the next morning with the Nashville music executives, and now he is living in Georgia, a working man installing cable systems. On this day, we meet him, inundated with family responsibilities and morning chaos, and the unexpected.

He and his assistant, played by Chase Browning, head out on the first call of the day. An old house with a U-haul in the driveway. When they arrive, a cantankerous old man opens the door. At this point they are just the cable guys, and he just another customer. Before they have a chance to install anything, the assistant opens the guitar case and with the awe of seeing his dream celebrity, he realizes that the old man, is country legend Claude Allen, played by Beau Bridges.

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Wayne and Claude begin talking about back in the day stories and during a cable installation, Allen hands him a guitar and listens to one of Wayne’s original songs. When Wayne returns home that day, he is hit with another unexpected expense and finally decides to throw the hail Mary and reach out to Allen for help.

Claude, who is clear he is out of the biz, is ignited by the enthusiasm of Wayne, and the possibility of one last hit. So, he agrees to help him. Together, they return to Nashville, hoping they can shop the song and score a record deal. With Wayne driving, Claude, who knows every roadhouse and motel along the way, stops and meets up with old friends, Pepper, played by Sandra Lee-Oain Thomas and Bob, played by Ezekiel Bridges.

But the industry has changed, and no one is willing to take a chance on Claude. Soon they meet up with Buck Bates, played by Wilbur T. Fitzgerald, who agrees to give the old man studio time to make the demo and like most snakes in the business he thinks he is outsmarting the Claude and Wayne, and stealing the rights to the song and their dreams. Until Wayne finds a way to outsmart the system.

This sets up the final act as Wayne decides a man’s word is his bond, and loyalty is worth the risks.

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Driven by strong compelling performances, The Neon Highway is a feel-good film, that doesn’t hide the pitfalls, sorrows, distractions, and challenges of the life of an artist.

The ensemble cast, led by Beau Bridges who embodies the drunken, washed-up, former country legend, who left in his path severed friendships, burnt bridges, and scorched earth, and each personify the characters, and the film also showcases some well-known session musicians, including Lee Brice and country music star Pam Tillis.

A heartwarming and emotional film, The Neon Highway opens in select theaters March 15, 2024. See it.

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Country: U.S.

Language: English.

Runtime: 113minutes.

Release Date: March 15, 2024, in select theaters. 

Directed By: William Wages.

Produced By: Stratton Leopold, Lori Berlanga.

Executive Producers: William Wages, Phillip Rob Bellury, Craig Miller.

Cast: Beau Bridges, Rob Mayes, Sam Hennings, TJ Power, Lee Brice, Pam Tillis, Jennifer Bowles, Sandra Lee-Oain Thomas, Wilbur T. Fitzgerald, Brett Gentile, Ezekiel Bridges.

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