Set out in the Midwest, brothers Ellis (Ethan Peck) and Carter (Adam Rothenberg) have been on the run since 1993 from their abusive father, and eventually wind up in New Mexico. Carter had it all – he was quarterback and had a girlfriend, Laurel. However, he also has the weight of the world on his back. The film’s first scene conveys his baggage. He walks home with his girlfriend and hears a violent argument inside between his parents. His mother is beaten, and Carter winds up knocking out his father, grabbing his mom and kid brother and going on the run, leaving Laurel and his old life behind.
As the story progresses, one could see the fraternal chemistry between the two actors. They are different, but understand each other on levels unknown only by two kids who have went through such a sordid past. The present day Carter is a hard-ass drunk that will do everything for Ellis. His brother is a young man, who is now dying of cancer. The journey begins when they start on the road back to Tennessee in search of their deadbeat dad (their mother has since passed) for a bone-marrow transplant.
On their way, they come across a server (Carey) and her personal drama. She works a double shift at the diner, has an abusive police officer husband and is trapped in her situation.
Her way out comes in the form of Ellis, who is kindhearted and thanks her for a free Coke. He hears her singing on her break, and as the film develops, she joins them on their way to Tennessee. The addition of Carey to the group causes a rift between her and her violent husband, as the quest turns into a runaway.
Of course, Carey had a lot to prove with this one, and she shows that she has potential to grow as an actress. (She even nails the accent and weeps real tears!) It would not be a Carey film without a song, though, and “Right to Dream” is an acoustic guitar ballad with Mariah soul (written by Carey herself, along with Willie Nelson) sans the belting of high notes. It is a sad yet inspirational piece, which reflects the mood and characters of the film.
Overall, the film is not a disappointment. The performances were fantastic and the end scenes even had a bit of a surprising element to them. The characters make you reflect on your own life, regrets and hardships. This would have definitely made it in theaters if there was enough backing behind it. This film deserves a shot. This is a powerful story that needs to be viewed.