The Neon Highway

The Neon Highway Movie Review

“The Neon Highway” is a story of a man who gets a second-chance to make it big in the country music scene. He has to put his dreams on hold, but then happens to meet a country music legend. The two of them go on a quest to Nashville. This could be his big break. Or it might only break his heart — again…


Wayne Collins (played by Rob Mayes) is working at becoming a country star, working out songs and playing with his brother. Lloyd Collins (played by T.J. Power) is ready to make it big with his brother Wayne. But a terrible auto accident causes Wayne to stop in his tracks. He loses his close relationship with his brother, and Wayne has to concentrate of his family life.


With his wife Ginny (played by Jennifer Bowles), Wayne sticks to working for a local telecom company. One day he is installing a line for a new resident of old house in the town. He finds that the new owner is Claude Allen (played by Beau Bridges). Claude is a big-time, legendary country star. Or at least he was at one point. He is out of the business, and has been absent from the Nashville scene for almost two decades.


Wayne plays a song that he and his brother Lloyd wrote several years ago. Claude thinks it could be a big hit, if Wayne allows him to beef it up and record it. After all, Claude can pull a lot of strings with people in the industry. He has deep roots with record companies and producers. This might a major comeback for Claude, and this could be a major stepping stone for Wayne.


Ginny wants Wayne to see if he can still have a future in music. With a partnership with big star like Claude Allen, that just might be able to work out. Wayne takes off from work to go on a road trip to Nashville with Claude. Claude talks a big game, and it will be interesting to see if his name can still get results from the studios, producers and radio stations. He thinks it is worth a shot, at least.


Claude has Wayne stop at a few bars along the way. After all, Claude needs to power up with a good friend of his — Jack Daniels. They stop to stay a small run-down motel right outside the city. It is run by Claude’s old friend, Ray (played by Sam Hennings).


He runs the motel now, but he used to work with Claude in his road crew. Ray works there with his sister, Pepper (played by Sandra Lee-Oian Thomas). She and Claude have a long-term relationship. But she dumped Claude years ago.


Wayne starts to get discouraged when all the people that Claude knew in the prior years are either dead or retired. The chances to get something rolling seem to dwindle each day. But then Claude takes a lot of Wayne’s cash to play poker with old band mates.


Then they agree to play on the record demo when Claude can book some studio time. The two of them get to a studio run by Buck Bates (played by Wilbur T. Fitzgerald). Buck is willing to let Claude and Wayne use the studio. But Claude overstays his welcome, and now Wayne is on the hook for a big studio fee.


Ray and Pepper keep warning Wayne that Claude might have had a lot of influence in the past. But he seems to have upset too many people for too long. The guy is a country legend, but his star has dimmed so much that nobody seems to care anymore. Claude’s final chance is with a different studio chief, and that guy owns Claude a big favor. But he will not give Claude the time of day any more.


Wayne is now desperate, so he meets up with his estranged bother, Lloyd. The two of them own the rights to the song that Claude recorded. Buck, the studio guy, tells Wayne that he can forgive the studio fee that Wayne still owns.


But that is only if Buck can get the rights to the song. But that would cut Claude out of any deal. Wayne has one final idea that might get Claude’s version of the demo song out to the public. But it is long-shot, and it really unusual way to get publicity…


“The Neon Highway” can be a little bit corny at times, but this movie has an ace-in-the-hole. It is the performance of Beau Bridges (as Claude). He plays a perfect disheveled wash-out of a former big star. His head is still in the high air of fame, even though his star is tarnished and rusted.


Rob Mayes (Wayne) is good as the person who wants to get something good for himself and his family. But he slowly learns that hitching his wagon to Claude’s faded star might not be the best way to go. The story follows the trials and tribulations of Wayne, as he discovers breaking into the music business is more difficult than it seems.


The rest of cast is good in the roles they play. The final twist does come as a bit of a sneaky surprise. And it is fun way to see that Wayne is able to play hardball with the big shot producers. There is a quixotic quality to see these two tilting at windmills in Nashville.


“The Neon Highway” is a movie that takes the idea of country music has-beens, and a never-was, and puts them into a place where dreams might or might not come true. The journey down the road to get there is filled with some entertaining moments.



The Neon Highway

Directed by: William Wages
Written by: Phillip Rob Bellury, William Wages
Starring: Rob Mayes, Beau Bridges, Sam Hennings, T.J. Power, Jennifer Bowles, Wilbur T. Fitzgerald
Cinematography: Paul Krumper
Edited by: Cindy Parisotto
Music by: Arturo Sandoval
Produced by: Mountain Movies
Length: 1 hour 53 minutes
Release date: March 15, 2024
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some language
Genre: Country Drama


Rating contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

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