Tennessee (film)

2008 film by Aaron Woodley

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DVD cover
Directed byAaron Woodley
Written byRussell Schaumberg
Produced byLee Daniels
StarringEthan Peck
Adam Rothenberg
Mariah Carey
CinematographyDavid Greene
Edited bySteve Edwards
Music byMariah Carey
Mario Grigorov
Distributed byVivendi Entertainment
Release dates
  • April 26, 2008 (2008-04-26) (Tribeca Film Festival)
  • June 5, 2009 (2009-06-05)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million
Box office$16,100[1]

Tennessee is a 2008 American road drama film directed by Aaron Woodley, produced by Lee Daniels, and starring Ethan Peck, Adam Rothenberg, and Mariah Carey. Vivendi Entertainment has acquired all U.S. rights to the film.[2]


In the spring of 1993, a young Carter along with his girlfriend Laurel (Melissa Benoist) found out that Carter's mom (Michelle Harris) has been physically abused again by his father (Bill Sage). He decides to leave Tennessee along with his mom and his younger brother Ellis. In 2007, a grown up Carter (Adam Rothenberg) has discovered that his brother Ellis (Ethan Peck) has acute leukemia. Ellis then told Carter that they might need to go back to Tennessee to have a match for Ellis' bone marrow transplant since Carter is not and their mother is already deceased.

On their way to Tennessee, their car broke down and stopped at a local diner. Ellis later meets Krystal (Mariah Carey), a waitress who does not seem to enjoy her job. They later get acquainted to which Krystal quits her job and lets the boys ride in to her car to accompany them to Tennessee. Since the boys does not have anywhere to sleep, Krystal brings them to her house where her husband Frank (Lance Reddick), an abusive sheriff, gets mad at the idea of bringing them to his home. In the morning, Krystal realizes that this is not the life she has ever dreamed of since she has always wanted to be a singer-songwriter. She then decides to leave Frank early in the morning in able for him not to control her.

Along with the boys they head to a bar and danced for a little while not until Carter made a scandal that angered Krystal. Frank decides to track them using the plate number of her car to which Krystal trades with another one. Despite that, Frank was still able to catch them on the road. Krystal later outsmarts Frank and ran to a nearby train station with the boys headed to Tennessee.

Arriving at Tennessee, Carter, Ellis and Krystal have run out of pocket money. Krystal then tries to pawn her guitar but Carter stops her after seeing a flyer for a singing contest in a bar to which she competes. Frank, who arrived late at Tennessee sees a girl, traumatically abused by her boyfriend. He later realizes the same situation with him and Krystal. He heads to a bar, where the singing contest is happening and sees Krystal performing to which he does not pursue her but instead sets her free. After winning, Krystal gives them enough money and they head their separate ways.

While on the bus, Carter finds out that Ellis has passed out where he then rushes him to a hospital. Ellis later wakes up and asks Carter for a picture of a mountain in a nearby middle school to which Carter later finds out that his ex-girlfriend Laurel is there working as a teacher. Afraid to talk to her, he decides to head back to the hospital. Carter drives and heads to his old house to which he discovers that their father is not there. An old woman in the neighborhood asks Carter if he is the son of Roy and tells him that a package is waiting for him. He finds out that his father has passed away a long time ago and that the package was made by Ellis which contains a letter saying that Ellis knew about their father's death all along and decides to throw a trip to Tennessee in order for Carter to realize and face his fears that he has always thought of ever since he left home. He also said that the picture was for him to find out that Laurel was still there and tells him to give it a chance to talk to her.

It is then concluded that Ellis died to which Carter and Krystal, throws his ashes in the top of a mountain. Krystal decides to head home and Carter tells him that he will be waiting for her big break as a singer. Carter then travels to the middle school and finds Laurel. He decides to go and talk to her until the screen goes black.



Mariah Carey co-wrote "Right to Dream" with Willie Nelson and performed it with Nelson's harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, for the movie's soundtrack.[3] "It's not really country," says Nelson, "It's more Mariah."

In May 2010, Carey's cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," was leaked online. It was originally supposed to appear on the Tennessee soundtrack.


Carey with Robert De Niro at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, where the film had its premiere.

The premiere of Tennessee took place at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26, 2008.[4][5] Tennessee was released to 15 theaters on June 5, 2009.[6] Playing in limited release, Tennessee has grossed $9,438 from 15 theaters for a per-screen average of $629 in its opening weekend.[1] As of June 24, it grossed a total of $16,100.[1]

Home media

The DVD, initially scheduled for release on September 1, 2009, was released on January 26, 2010 in accordance with the film's official promotional site. A Blu-ray version of the film has yet to be released in the US, instead getting released in Canada. The disc is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio in HD but with only lossy audio, no subtitles, and no special features.[7]

Critical reception

Critical response for the film was generally mixed, with Metacritic calculating an average rating of 42% based on 8 reviews.[8] Based on 21 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Tennessee had an average rating of 33% with an average score of 4.5/10. Its consensus says "Despite some beautiful scenery, Tennessee can't extend its simple premise beyond typical independent road trip movie tropes."[9] The Hollywood Reporter said that the pacing is off and that the movie meanders until it reaches its unexpectedly powerful conclusion.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Tennessee (2009)". Box Office Mojo. June 24, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Vivendi off to 'Tennessee' - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety Archived September 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Shirley Halperin (March 21, 2007). "Willie Nelson made Mariah Carey's dream come true". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  4. ^ Mariahcarey.com news.news Archived 2008-11-24 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ indieWIRE: TRIBECA '08 | Tribeca Unveils Discovery, Midnight Slates for '08 Fest Archived March 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Theatrical Movie Schedule Additions and Changes". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  7. ^ https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Tennessee-Blu-ray/8527/#Overview
  8. ^ "Tennessee Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
  9. ^ "Tennessee (2009)". May 4, 2009. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  10. ^ Farber, Stephen (May 1, 2008). "Mariah Carey surprisingly effective in Tennessee". Reuters. Retrieved April 21, 2017.

External links

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