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|Have Dreams, Will Travel|
|Directed by||Brad Isaacs|
|Written by||Brad Isaacs|
|Music by||Glen Ballard|
|May 21, 2007|
Have Dreams, Will Travel (also known as West Texas Lullaby, A West Texas Children's Story, and Dream It Out Loud) is a 2007 drama film set in the 1961s. Inspired by true events, it was written and directed by Brad Isaacs and stars AnnaSophia Robb and Cayden Boyd.
Narrator Benjamin Reynolds (Cayden Boyd) lives with neglectful parents in 1960s west Texas: a mother (Lara Flynn Boyle) who is, as Ben states, "psychotically obsessed with movie stars to a point that defies explanation" and a father (Matthew Modine) who is overly obsessed with his boat. Ben explains how his father meets his mother under vulnerable circumstances and describes how his "folks never should have married, and they definitely should have never had a kid." "But they did, it happens. The randomness of life and all that." Ben goes on explaining how things got worse and worse due to his parents obsessions, his mother hiring handymen that resembled attractive movie stars to fix problems his father could have fixed but didn't because he was concentrating on constructing his boat.
One stormy night, there is a serious car wreck outside of the Reynolds' diner. Patrons assist in aiding the passengers but find only a single survivor, a young girl about Ben's age. Ben's parents agree to take in this girl, Cassie Kennington (AnnaSophia Robb), as she recuperates from her injuries and until she can be moved into her grandparents' home in Galveston. The first real glimpse at Cass is when Ben brings her a well prepared dinner meal, that she declines after making a snide remark about having a partially lacerated liver. As Ben begins to leave the room, Cass quickly asks if her parents' bodies were already sent back to Amarillo for burial and how the accident was listed on the official police report. Ben responds with an awkward, "I'm not really sure." Cass tries to imply that it was her father's tendencies to drive while intoxicated and speeding that caused the accident.
The next night we find Cass abruptly awakened from a brief flashback of something she appears to be hiding. Ben is seated at the foot of her bed looking concerned and says, "you were screaming." Cass takes a sip of water and only replies that it's late and he should get back to sleep. A few hours later Cass is seated in Ben's room staring blankly at him sleeping. As he awakes to the dawn of morning and notices her, he quietly yells, "Jesus!" She goes on to ask him if he likes her or just feels sorry for her situation. Ben agrees that he likes her. Cass begins to explain why there is little reason to remain there and encourages him to run away with her and live with her "hip" aunt (Heather Graham) and uncle (Dylan McDermott), who live in Baltimore.
Making their way down the road, Cass explains the importance of having a plan and not just some "pipe dream." After Cassie's highly intellectual explanation of what a pipe dream is, he asks, "What part of your brain works so hard at and makes you think and talk like that?" Cass informs him that her father was a professor with a very wide vocabulary and many unique ideas; that when he wasn't teaching college he "taught her" and her mother "never did anything". [about it] Their first stop is at a pig farm run by an also maritally distraught Henderson (Val Kilmer), who approaches them hiding in his hog house. Henderson explains that his wife saw them come in from across the road and tosses Cass and Ben some sandwiches his wife made for them. Henderson welcomes them to stay and responds to Cassie's question of how much is room, board, and water with, "I imagine falling to sleep to the smell of pig shit outta do it." Ben later explains that his plan for life is to become a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. The two appear to stick around for at least a few days. We don't find out Cassie's full plan but one night, as they hear Henderson and his wife arguing, she tells Ben that them getting married is "a major part of the plan." That same night Cass has another nightmarish flashback involving the car accident that gives us a little more depth to her secret. The next day, Henderson performs what imitates a wedding ceremony for the two.
They both get back on the road, but when they stop for a break, a police car pulls up. The officers (Stephen Root and Toby Huss) question the two for being alone but Cass quickly creates a story. "We're in that green station wagon next to the pissers." Cass goes on to reiterate that their father had a recent bladder transplant and it's been "more like a medical convention than a vacation." As Sheriff Brock (Root) is skeptical but nearly convinced, the station wagon pulls out of the parking lot. It seems that Ben and Cass would spend the night in jail when Cass fakes a seizure in her cell. Deputy Raymond Ward (Huss), designated to guard the two, believes it and unwittingly lets Ben out of his cell to assist her. As he prepares to help Ward prevent Cass from choking on her tongue, Ben pushes Ward over giving them enough time to escape and lock the jail cell door behind them.
As they take their next break, Ben makes a short argument and questions Cass about her brash attitude. A bus full of hippies pulls up and a man walks up asking for directions to Memphis. Ben and Cass are promised a lift in exchange for Cassie's navigation abilities. However, they're only taken as far as Kentucky because Ben becomes jealous with this guy who gets very social-able with Cass and "just lives his life and everything seems to work out." After being dropped off at a farm, Cassie becomes somewhat hostile and begins nagging Ben about how it "would be way too comfortable for me and my banged up body to be in a nice warm bus headed exactly where we want to be goin'." Ben's defense is, "we're married you know. That's suppose to count for something."
In Virginia, Cassie's arm begins to swell. After looking at it, Ben realizes it seems serious and calls a doctor. Seeing as they are two lone children coming to him for medical assistance during the night, they are questioned about where they're from and who their parents are. Cass, once again, attempts to create an elaborate story involving their father being laid off at a local mill and money being tight. Just as before, Cassie's story unfortunately fails. Before they contact the local sheriff, Ben quickly makes up another story about their mother being arrested for armed robbery in Arizona. Cassie is treated and both are back on their way.
The next hitchhike engages them with a very kind and talkative African-American couple. The story Ben and Cass provide this time is he is front runner for both "Mr. Teen Maryland" and "Mr. Teen America." He tells his own tale, where Ripley's Believe It or Not is coming to interview his cousin (Cass) for attempting to walk across Kentucky on her hands but being trampled by cattle before nearly making it. Ben tells the couple, that's how she got hurt.
They successfully make it to Baltimore, where Cassie's aunt and uncle welcome the two into their home. While initially over-enjoyed by finally reaching their destination, Cass becomes more distant and irritable with everyone. More and more actions begin to trigger these terrible feelings and memories to resurface with more frequent nightmares. Cass than has another horrific flashback that provides another portion of her dark repressed memory.
We see Ben getting along with Cassie's aunt and uncle while Cass sits in the corner, alone, and with a look of hollowness and distance. In a later scene, Cassie's uncle decides to try and finally get her involved with the activities. Cass begins dancing with her uncle when he, as a dance move, lifts her up for a moment and he is shocked when Cassie crashes to the floor after struggling from his arms while screaming. She curls up, hides her face, and begins to cry. Her uncle, aunt, and Ben all gather around Cass with looks of fear and confusion.
Cassie's recent emotional resurfacing strengthens the belief of psychological trauma. After eventually falling asleep and being taken to bed, Ben awakes to find Cass is missing. He begins to cautiously search the home and finds her staring at him, with a now completely blank look, as she stands with the wind blowing lightly through her hair and gown while standing on the balcony. She is taken to the Mercy Psychiatric Ward in Virginia. There are no words spoken between them as Cass gives Ben a very emotional good-bye hug and is then taken to her room. Ben is sent to a military academy in North Carolina. After hoping Cass will get better, he is informed that she will be sentenced to a high risk observation ward for no less than 18 months.
Ben decides to run away from the academy and ultimately go save Cass before its too late. He ends up finding a ride with a businessman (Ethan Phillips), all the way back to Virginia. They talk briefly about families. Ben openly mentions his plan to break his wife out of a psychiatric ward, which has the businessman question if maybe Ben was the one staying at the hospital. Ben produces a plan to sneak into the hospital after hours by quietly catching the door before it closes after an employee leaves for the evening. Ben makes his way to Cassie's room, only to find her eerily calm and quiet. He walks up and sits softly next to her. He tells Cass that he's come to get her out. She seems reluctant and responds, "what if I'm really, really tired?" Cass then leans over, kisses him lightly on the cheek, and lays her head on his shoulder. The next scene is a flashback and full disclosure of Cassie's destructive secret.
It's a stormy night out and the Kennington's are heading hastily down a country road. Cass is seated in the front passenger seat, with her father driving, and her mother sitting in the middle rear seat. Cass is seen placing a pillow to cover up her crossed legs, seemingly to protect herself from her father. Her father then removes the pillow, and begins to rub her leg with his fingers. She soon fights back, screaming, and causes the car to swerve and then crash.
After the flashback, we're brought back to Cass and Ben in the hospital. Ben tells her that she "took it as long as you could. You can't blame yourself for that." He pushes her hair back to try and comfort her, and she replies sorrowfully with, "there are good parts to them to." Ben repeats that its time to leave. Cassie's guilt holds high and she tells him, "I'm sick. When you kill two people, it makes you sick." He tells her again that he is taking her out of there and assures her that they'll worry about everything else later. She agrees and they escape.
Ben narrates that before he and Cass could start their lives together, he must resolve some things for himself first. Ben is seen burning down his mother's only movie theater and crashing his father's boat. It looks like an act of anger only at first. In fact, he has made them free from their own distractions that kept them from the truth. Now when they had lost what they thought was their only meaning of life, they look ruined, but they are free. As Ben's parents grieve for their lost things, Ben and Cass watch from the top of a nearby pickup truck, arms around each other.
The movie then progresses to Ben and Cassie's lives as they get older, with Ben's child voice still narrating. When they are adults, Cass becomes an editor for children books and Ben becomes the youngest pitcher in Major League Baseball to pitch in the World Series. After his arm gives out, he becomes a writer as Cass planned. They eventually have two kids, whose names are unknown. We see, a now elderly, Ben and Cass walking along the beach holding hands. He continues to narrate the lessons he learned in life. "Having the chance to give what you never got." "Most people need a plan. Life is crazy enough without one." Ben is now walking down the beach all alone. Narration continues, "The hardest part of life is losing someone you love. At first, you almost wish you never knew them, so it would stop hurting so much. It feels like it's going to kill you." Now showing earlier scenes when Ben first met Cass and of their journey. "What you end up missing the most is the sweet burden of being needed. It gives your life a purpose. It really does. And it makes you feel great." "That's something else Cassie taught me. It's all part of the plan."
- AnnaSophia Robb as Cassie Kennington
- Cayden Boyd as Ben Reynolds
- Val Kilmer as Henderson
- Matthew Modine as Ben's Father
- Lara Flynn Boyle as Ben's Mother
- Heather Graham as Cassie's Aunt
- Dylan McDermott as Cassie's Uncle
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