“Would you like to review JACKIE & RYAN?” the peeps at Kabuku PR asked me, it is a new DVD/ Blu Ray from the people at Defiant! Screen Entertainment, it’s a Katherine Hiegl romance movie? I was so so, I am running twenty articles behind, running two websites, full time job, studying, at three screenings a week, one restaurant review a week, have a pile of forty books I need to read and review, and have no social life, chance of meeting a partner or life in general. Sure I said the second I saw Ben Barnes starring alongside Hiegl, no shame in saying it, he is one my menagerie of “to die fors.” And while this skipped cinemas in Australia and I was expecting a dud, it wasn’t without charm and some positive points. JACKIE & RYAN released on all forms of home entertainment this week, is rated M and runs for 90mins.


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Ryan (Barnes) is a vagabond travelling muso who travels the United States busking and playing music and meeting up with his other fellow travelling vagabonds. Jackie (Hiegl) is a slightly washed up, driven to giving up her life as a once successful Taylor Swift type due to a bad marriage and discovering her daughter is more important. She now lives with her mum in the incredibly picturesque Ogden, Utah. She stops to listen to Ryan and a mate busking on the street in Ogden and she starts talking to them but Ryan is socially awkward and incredibly independent, a traveller who doesn’t want to make friends or ties. Due to a chance car accident encounter Jackie & Ryan are kind of thrust together and while Jackie’s mother Miriam (Sheryl Lee) makes it very clear she is not a fan of Ryan, Jackie’s daughter Lia (Emily Alyn Lind) falls for Ryan immediately.

Ryan is struggling with escaping his comfort zone and trying to write his own songs and get recorded, and Jackie has given up on music and is no longer involved with it, she is also struggling with an asshole husband (soon to be ex) and is financially distraught. They start coming together and bonding and Ryan starts ingratiating himself into everyone’s lives.


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JACKIE & RYAN is a movie version of a cliched country and western ballad. It is like one of the best Hallmark midday movies you can see, it is perfectly acceptable as a romance movie and I quite liked it. The cinematography is sensational and it would be hard not to make it so in the mountainous snowy town of Ogden, Utah. This is the kind of place I would LOVE to live in. The opening with Ryan entering town on top of a train with the brilliant banjo music really set a high tone to the start of the film. The idea of the vagabond musician brings back romantic notions of old minstrels and travelling by train and the country life spells out freedom and beauty and my god Ben Barnes suited the role, he was perfectly cast. The most surprising thing, his singing is truly superb, I have downloaded the soundtrack already from iTunes, highly recommend it.

And don’t let it stop with Barnes, Hiegl also does her own singing and she is so bloody good, it was beautiful, never knew either of them could sing, but wow – they most certainly can. Not sure if Barnes plays the guitar himself but that voice is all his, I am all for Barnes playing Buckley in a biopic!!!!!!!


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I do believe this was made as a country film vehicle for Hiegl and it tries to appeal to the struggling country folk under troubled economic times with a nod to the romantic life of the country. I get it, it kind of worked, but while I love her in romcoms, I would seriously be friends with Hiegl if we knew each other, she was miscast in this movie, or Barnes was miscast with her. I felt he suited the movie more and I would love to see a movie about a travelling country music train riding vagabond and he can play the lead any day but they had as much chemistry as me and this inanimate rod :). It is also weird and most likely from Hollywood casting conditioning but while she is only two years older than Barnes he comes across as so much younger to her, I can see her more as an older sister than a lover.

I also found the screenplay quite weak and the premise for them coming together in the first place sloppy and laughable.

And while her leg was badly hurt it appears to have been forgotten by the next scene!! And while bitching about holes in the screenplay, for someone struggling desperately for cash how does she afford a guitar for Ryan? It made no sense.


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The ending is also cliched but being a country music song romance movie the themes of “if you love it let it free” and “home is where your heart is” worked for the movie and my heart would ache and ache if Ben Barnes left me, having him return could be the best perfect little love desire you would need to survive. Haha.

See this movie for the amazing singing from the leads and that country music, just brilliant, also enjoy it for the beautiful town and cinematography. Don’t expect a masterpiece and take it for what it is, a nice acceptable romance movie, it was perfect for me dying with flu under a doona, made me warm and fuzzy.


3 Pops


With special thanks to Defiant! Screen Entertainment to win one of the 3x Blu Rays of JACKIE & RYAN you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite country movie and why? Not my most viewed genre but I will lean towards SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT or WALK THE LINE but OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU would get a good look in 🙂

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

Prizes will be selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent on or after September 20th when the competition closes! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.



Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).


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