A Catholic Move Review Of “Dreamin’ Wild”: A Father And Two Sons

by Movie Reviews and Recommendations

If you’re looking for a movie that isn’t all hyped up in the culture wars, consider Dreamin’ Wild, just released in theaters on August 4.  It’s a true story of two brothers who created a record in their teens that was discovered by a record label thirty years later. This movie is filled with flashbacks to Donnie and Joe’s (played by Casey Affleck and Walton Goggins respectively) youthful age and the events that transpire in the present. Religious imagery is found throughout the movie. A quick shot of a St. Francis of Assisi statue, Donnie lighting a candle in a little chapel, religious images in the house, a rosary hanging from a rear-view mirror, and praying before the concert are a few examples of faith moments in the movie. 

Dreamin’ Wild: The Trailer

A Story We’ve Heard Before

Donnie and Joe played music together. In their youth, they had the bright idea to record an album. That movie didn’t go anywhere until it was accidentally discovered decades later and made the two older men popular and sought after for concerts and performances. Something like this happened once with a great spiritual classic and it came to mind while I watched the film. St. Louis de Montfort wrote True Devotion to Mary in the 1700’s, it was lost and discovered only in 1842, when it was published and became a timeless spiritual treatise about Marian devotion. For many of us, looking at the past and seeing how it can enrich and inform our current state of life is valuable. It just so happened for Donnie and Joe that this would be their path to fame—two brothers, forgotten by many, newly discovered, and praised by many. 

The Theme Of Father And Son

The father’s relationship with his sons is a beautiful thread throughout the storyline. Faith was important to Don Sr.  A repeated line in the movie was his belief in his sons’ ability to succeed: “If you can’t believe in family what can you believe in?”  Seeing the storyline unfold, the image of the Prodigal Son parable came to mind. I saw Donnie as the prodigal son. He wanted to pursue his musical career, at the detriment of his father’s property and livelihood. While he doesn’t ask his father for his inheritance, he does ask for his support, and because his dad believes in him, he willingly supports his son. There is tension between Donnie and Joe.  Though it’s more of Donnie accepting Joe, surely there is some resentment on the part of Joe toward Donnie who caused hardship for the family. With the success of their album Dreamin’ Wild, the regrets, remorse, and shame Donnie felt, could finally be resolved.  A touching moment comes near the movie’s end, when Donnie has a heart-to-heart with his father, listens to his advice, and then puts it into action.

Dreamin’ Wild is a redemption movie for two brothers who have to confront and relive their past, meeting their old selves, to become who they are supposed to be in the present and in the future.   

Can a Catholic See Dreamin’ Wild?

This movie poses no moral problems or bad theology. 

Fr. Looney’s Rating Of Dreamin’ Wild


A few camera shots and frames had me wanting greater resolution and an understanding of why it was included in the film and part of the story.  Overall, a beautiful story about a dad, his two sons, and the struggle to bond and become successful.  

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