OK, now I know this may be shocking for some to hear after the debacle that was Glitter—but (hold the phone) the newly premiered Tennessee starring Mariah Carey did not totally suck! This may be hard for some to believe given the singers penchant for over the top antics and outfits, but Mimi actually turns in a relatively subtle and nuanced performance as a waitress cum singer who tags along with a brothers Carter and Ellis on a quest to find their long lost father. After running away from his abusive ways years ago, they are on a desperate search for a life saving bone marrow match to cure Ellis’ Leukemia. Along the way their car breaks down in Texas where they befriend Mimi’s character Krystal, a singing waitress with a heart of gold who takes them in and eventually joins them in an attempt to escape her own demons. Their journey leads them to, where else? Why Tennessee, of course, where Krystal hopes to start up a new career as a singer/songwriter and the boys hope to find their father.
Tennessee provides an interesting twist on the classic road trip movie, which at the start felt a little too much like Y Tu Mama Tambien for me. But after the bizarre sexual tension is dispelled, the relationship between the brothers and Krystal starts to make more sense. She provides Ellis and jaded older brother Carter with hope and inspiration, something sorely missing during their hard-scrabble existence as of late. The boys, on the other hand, provide Krystal with the jump start she needs to get up and out of the dead end life she found herself stuck in. When Mariah's character finally decides to leave her hard drinking, alpha male husband, she sheds a silent tear and we would be lying if we said we didn’t feel her pain. By the end of this film, there was barely a dry eye in the house.
All in all, Mimi succeeds in playing a likeable, engaging character. Although Oscar nominations may not be in the future for the superstar singer, cast correctly she proves that she can hold her own on the silver screen.