Mean Dreams (2016)

Director: Nathan Morlando

Writer: Kevin Coughlin, Ryan Grassby (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Wiggins, Sophie Nelisse, Joe Cobden, Bill Paxton, Vickie Papavs, Colm Feore, Ryan Blakely


Plot: Follows Casey and Jonas, two teenagers desperate to escape their broken and abusive homes and examines the desperation of life on the run and the beauty of first love.

Tagline – The law won’t protect you

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Bleak, but Hopeful


Story: Mean Dreams starts when teenager Casey (Nelisse) moves into a farming home with her sheriff father Wayne (Paxton), their neighbours are the Ford’s with teenager son Jonas (Wiggins) becoming friends with Casey, starting a romance, even with his father Elbert (Cobden) not wanting his son easily districted.

When Jonas tries to stand up for Casey against her abusive father, he gets put in his place, trying to get help he finds only barriers, until he takes a stand to save her as the two look to go on the run.


Thoughts on Mean Dreams


Characters – Jonas was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps on the farm, he only does this work and doesn’t get to meet anybody from town, until he meets his new neighbour. He sees her in danger, risking his own life to save her, going on the run, learning to live at last, while trying to escape the law that is after him. Casey is the abused daughter of one of the sheriffs who moved into town, he is a dirty cop living with his own regret. She sees a ray of sunshine in Jonas who could help her escape the hell she is living through. Elbert is the father of Jonas, he is known as a soft touch in town and wants his son to follow in his footsteps. Wayne is the abusive father of Casey’s, he is a dirty cop and his action led to his wife’s death.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins and Sophie Nelisse are both wonderful as the teenagers from broken homes who will do everything for each other in an attempt to escape a futureless life, the two show each emotion and moment of determination to escape. Bill Paxton as the abusive father is just as disturbing as you would imagine his character to be.

StoryThe story follows two teenagers who fall in love and want to escape their broken homes in search of a future together, they go on the run with stolen money which sees them need to learn how to survive of the grid. This does show us how children could be victims of abuse in Casey’s side of everything and still look normal on the outside, while Jonas is being kept away from the world to do a job he doesn’t have any interest in being apart of. We get to see how desperate the two have become to make it out of the life which doesn’t have much left for them already. This does show the bleak future, while leaving them feeling hopeful because everybody is against them even the law, which they didn’t break in the first place.

ThrillerThe film does keep you on edge as you wait to see just how everything will unfold, this does give us a sense of unease at times during the film too.

SettingsThe film takes us to a poorer area in America, this shows how the families have become used to the life rather than seeking something more from it.

Scene of the Movie –
Standing up for yourself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could have been bleaker in the end.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that shows us just how difficult the life would be for the teenagers, it shows how they enjoy the escape because it will give them the freedom they couldn’t see coming.


Overall: Bleak, beautiful and hopeful.



ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – L – Lost in the Sun (2016)

Director: Trey Nelson

Writer: Trey Nelson (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Josh Wiggins, Lynn Collins, Emma Fuhrmann, Al Hayter, Larry Jack Dotson


Plot: The story of John, a small-time crook, who finds an unlikely accomplice in Louis, a newly-orphaned teenage boy. As their open-road adventure progresses and John drags the kid on a string of robberies, the pair forge an unexpected and powerful bond.

Tagline – How far can one man go?

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Simple Action Coming of Age Film


Story: Lost in the Sun starts as small-time crook John (Duhamel) visits a funeral of a young mother, her son Louis (Wiggins) is being sent to live with his grandparents, John sees this and volunteers to drive him across America, where he decides to use Louis to help him settle a couple of debts.

As the time together continues John pushes Louis into helping him commit the crimes as the two get to know each other as over the week.


Thoughts on Lost in the Sun


Characters – John is a crook, he seems to be freshly out of prison needing to payback debts for protection in prison, he offers to take Louis to his grandparents and starts using him to help pay of the debts, showing him the life of crime, it is clear early on that he does have a connection to Louis, we are left to see what that connection is. Louis is the teenager that has been left orphaned when his mother dies, he reluctantly joins John in the cross-country trip where he gets to learn certain things he wouldn’t have before, including how to drive and how to shoot a gun. We do only meet characters along the way, some help and most are the people they are robbing.

PerformancesJosh Duhamel is good in the leading role, it is one of his better performances as she shows how conflicted his character is and just how desperate he is to clear his debts, while trying to guide the teenager. Josh Wiggins is great in his role of the film, he gets to show moments of grief and moments of moving on with life as he is the one that needs to learn the biggest life lessons. The rest of the cast are solid without needing to do that much.

StoryThe story here comes down to one man trying to make up for his own mistakes in life by helping a young teenage boy across country to live with his grandparents only along the way we see him teach him life lessons which could one day prepare him for the real-world. This gives us a chance to see a redemption story while also giving us a coming-of-age chapter in Louis’s life, this isn’t going to break any ground in the genre and does everything it needs to do for the characters. We do get moments of questioning moments of what Louis is forced to do and for the most we don’t get enough time to look at the crimes that have left John where he is in life.

ActionThe action in the film is simple, we get a couple of weak chases and robberies, they are easy to watch and barely break into a sweat.

SettingsThe film takes us across America, we don’t hit any landmarks which just shows us small town after small town or open roads.

Scene of the Movie –
The final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Boys don’t just want to drive cars and shoot guns.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple coming of age film, it checks the boxes well without doing anything we haven’t seen before.


Overall: Coming-of-age 101




Max (2015)

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich (Screenplay)

Starring: Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali


Plot: A Malinois dog that helped American Marines in Afghanistan returns to the United States and is adopted by his handler’s family after suffering a traumatic experience.

Tagline – Best Friend. Hero. Marine.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Wonderful Movie


Story: Max starts as we meet Kyle Wincott (Amell) an American Marine who works with a tracker dog Max, who helps locate dangers in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in action, his family, Ray (Church), Pamela (Graham) and little brother Justin (Wiggins) who is a gamer high school student get to meet Max for the first time and only see his aggressive nature, apart from around Justin.

They take Max home as he is suffering PTSD and the only person he will listen to and remain calm around is Justin, with a new friend in Carmen (Xitlali), Justin learns to take responsibility for the first time in his life.


Thoughts on Max


Characters – Max is the loyal marine trained dog that has served in Afghanistan locating potential threats for his soldiers. He sees his handler killed in action leaving him suffering with PTSD and now he needs a new owner, and the brother of his handler is the only one he will listen to. Justin is the younger brother of Kyle, he has spent more time on video games and illegal deals, not having responsibility needed like his brother. When Max enters his life, he learns about taking responsibility and following in his brother’s path. Ray is the father of the boys, he served before which has made him patriotic towards the cause while dealing with the grief of losing his son too.

PerformancesJosh Wiggins as the younger brother is good in this movie, we do see this sort of character a lot and he handles it well. Thomas Hayden Church is good in the supporting role, but if we are honest it is the dog that is the star of the show here.

StoryThe story here shows the effects war can have on a dog that has been trained to locate threats, but the aftermath of losing that handler with their connection. We see the loyalty shown by the dog and how he can teach responsibility to the next generation of family. This is the strongest part of the movie, the rest does feel like a version of a home alone sort of thing because we follow a story about Max knowing right.

Adventure/Family This does show the family needing to come together after their own tragedy which will give their youngster member a chance for an adventure.

SettingsWe get a small look at the war scenario that Max has been and how he must adjust to normal life, which is where the struggle comes.

Scene of the Movie –
Max search.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  I feel there was more to the Reyes story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good movie, that should be seen by dog owners that understand loyalty that could be given to the owner.


Overall: Dog Owners dream film.