You’ve got an old country boy named Bo (played by Billy Ray Cyrus) who, years ago, reacted to a family tragedy by abandoning his wife and son. He’s spent the last decade on the road, drinking and doing drugs and basically being totally irresponsible. Now, he’s returned home and he’s trying to be sober and he’s hoping that he might even be able to reconnect with his family.
And then you’ve got Jake (played by Joel Smallbone), who is an up-and-coming country music star. He’s cocky. He’s arrogant. He’s still in love with his ex. He’s returned home because he’s lost. He’s also Bo’s son. Years ago, his mother (Jennifer Taylor), told him that Bo was dead.
So, now, Bo and Jake are both wandering around the same town. Do you think there’s a chance that Bo and Jake might meet each other? And maybe Bo’s going to see that Jake is heading down the exact same bad road that Bo’s spent the last few years traveling?
Does that sound just like a country song?
Superficially, yes. However, there are a few differences. For one thing, 2014’s Like A Country Song was rated PG-13 and clearly made for a family audience. That means there’s far less sex in this movie than you’ll find in the average country song. This is one of those films were characters are described as being wild but they’re also rather chaste. Jake’s ex (and perhaps future) girlfriend, Becca (Kerry Knuppe), is too busy volunteering to feed the homeless to spend much time doing anything else.
Also, since this is a faith-based film, there’s considerably less cursing to be found here than in the mildest of country music. I may be mistaken but I don’t think I even heard a single “damn” in the film. Trust me, I’ve spent a lot of time around country folk and even the most religious of them can turn profanity into an art form. If you really want to attend a symposium on creative ways to use the f-word in casual conversation, go hang out with a bunch of retirees in Arkansas.
Traditionally, this would be the point of the review where I write about how, despite being from Texas, I’m not a huge fan of country music but actually the music in Like A Country Song isn’t that bad. Say what you will about Billy Ray Cyrus, he can sing. So can Joel Smallbone, for that matter. Neither one is a bad actor, either. They’re believable as father and son, except for a few instances where Smallbone’s native Australian accent breaks through.
Anyway, this is one of those films that won’t surprise you but it deserves some points for 1) being exceedingly pleasant and 2) not being as preachy as some of the other faith-based films out there. Though the film was made on an obviously low-budget, it makes good use of its country setting and the cast does their best to bring some life to the material. It’s a good-natured movie and sometimes, that’s enough.