The Neon Highway is basically a country song-turned-movie that feels too small for the big screen but could play well to the country-music fan base. The story goes something like this: Two brothers from Columbus, Georgia head to Nashville with dreams of scoring a record deal with their original song, “The Neon Highway.” But then tragedy strikes and the dream fades. Fast forward seven years and one of the brothers, Wayne Collins (Rob Mayes) is a humble family man, working as a cable installer to make ends meet. A chance encounter with a washed-up country legend, Claude Allen (Beau Bridges), reignites Wayne’s passion for music– and fuels Claude’s hopes for a comeback. Together, they head to Nashville to pitch Wayne’s song to an industry that proves less than welcoming.

What follows is a formulaic foray into tales of woe, family drama, divided loyalties, murky motives and second chances– punctuated by a song that aint half bad. In fact, it’s quite good, and everyone who hears it knows it. But as anyone who’s ever tried to pitch anything original knows all too well, good material only gets you so far in business. You need connections, luck, and in the case of “The Neon Highway,” a bit of hijinks.

The Neon Highway brought to mind another small film about music, family, redemption and dreams– Dreamin’ Wild (2022). I had to look up my review of that one to refresh my memory of the plot, and was surprised to (re)discover Beau Bridges was in that one too! Dreamin’ Wild had more substance and a stronger ensemble, and was based on a true story. The Neon Highway is more of a side dish than a main course, but it goes down easy, like a cold beer at a favorite Honky Tonk. And Pam Tillis has a cameo.

The Neon Highway opens in select theaters on March 15 (after a premiere in, where else, Nashville!)

Listen to the title song by Dallas Davidson as performed by Lee Brice. It’s catchy.

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