After his rise to fame causes a rift with his father, a young superstar suffers a tragedy that will change his life forever. Can a chance meeting with a talented young woman give him the strength he needs to believe in himself?
TJ Millhouse (John Way) is a wholesome, hardworking Southern boy. Unfortunately, he works hard at songwriting instead of his ranch hand job. Any extra money goes to maintaining his guitar or buying a bit of recording time at a barebones local studio. Although the entire family is still recovering from the death of the mother, his hard, practical father, Hank (Rob Edwards), demeans his dreams. TJ’s only respite, besides music, is his adoring sister, Dakota, who supports his every hope. Thus, when TJ and Hank tragically lose Dakota to a car accident, causing Hank to suffer a debilitating heart attack, manly responsibility slaps TJ’s life in the face. This makes choices much tougher when TJ receives a surprise visit from Kat—“just Kat,” a no-nonsense Australian music producer, played with finesse by Julie Van Lith. Kat has been around and can pinpoint a sensation with uncanny precision. Faster than TJ can grab his hat, super-hit status rocks his world, leaving behind his caustic, resentful father.
Though always cherishing the thought of a meaningful, loving relationship, our homeboy is swept into the fast star life. The film follows TJ through concerts choked with masses, exploding material wealth and a fire-breathing blonde (Savannah Wix), the brunt of a few humorous hair-tossing scenes. But just as quickly, fate turns her fickle head and a tumor on the vocal cord leaves TJ’s future dangling like a broken guitar string. Late into the film, we meet true-blue, spunky Sunshine (Savanah McMahon), a starving artist-type musician struggling to pay the rent until she makes it big. She and TJ cross paths and it is apparent they can help each other.
Sweet Sunshine offers predominantly nice production values, though some of the acting is uneven, and a few scenes seem subtly stilted. Many of the sets lend a great deal to the film, as does the music. John Way and Van Lith bump it up with thriving performances, Van Lith adding enjoyable dry humor to her role. A caring home nurse (Debra Ann Byrd) contributes a layer of comedy as well, especially in scenes with the fire-breather. The film reveals some kissing—one short, but fairly heavy scene—and one scene of TJ’s girlfriend (not the likable type) sleeping in pajamas in his bed. Prayer and forgiveness are featured closer to the end of the film, though the spunky side of Sunshine unloads a full whack to the narcissistic girlfriend’s face. With these in mind, Dove awards Sweet Sunshine the 12+ Seal of Approval.
The Dove Take
Catapulted unexpectedly into fame and celebrity, singer/songwriter TJ Millhouse is struggling to experience genuine happiness when a twist of fate exchanges his fortune for true riches.