“Mighty Oak” Rock Band Movie Is More Profound Than You Think – Review

by Sarah Ruhlman

Paramount released a new music-filled movie earlier this month and it is so much more than meets the eye! At first glance, it might seem like every other uplifting melody-driven film about the power of music, but Mighty Oak is so much more. This movie tells the story of grief, love, the interconnectedness of our lives, and the idea that your family can be the people of your choosing.

The music in this film is enough to get you dancing and maybe enough to start asking your besties if they want to start a band. It’s about following big dreams, making sacrifices for the people you love, and interestingly enough, reincarnation. Yes, you read that right. This seemingly straightforward film about a fictional rock band’s rise to fame asks some pretty profound questions. Among them; what if when one life ends another one begins? Can someone’s soul be reborn in another life that will find its way back to those whom they loved? You’ll have to watch and find out.

Mighty Oak Summary

The film’s title is a tribute to the 10-year-old protagonist’s nickname- given by his fellow band members. Oak Scoggins might not be the coolest kid in school, but he’s a sweet son and prodigy at the guitar. When the young kid’s talent is realized, he is given the expensive electric guitar of the deceased former leading man of “Army of Love”- which kickstarts his journey with the band as they reunite.

The films begins10 years prior to present day when “Army of Love”, the fictional rock band, is in their prime. The super close brother/sister duo (played by Janel Parrish and Levi Dylan) is the leading man and manager of the beloved band. The two bonded during their difficult years of foster care following the death of their parents. After a big announcement that could kickstart their career, the band’s van gets collides with another vehicle. Though the rest of the band survives, lead vocalist and songwriter, Vaughn Jackson, tragically passes in the accident because he was not wearing his seatbelt. Though the crash sequence is a bit overly dark and dramatic, it certainly drives the point home.

Before you realize…

Before you realize what they’re doing, the film shows you some of Vaughn’s quirks- including the doodles in his songwriting book, his lyrical epiphanies that make them late for gigs, and the way he uses the sign of the horns- a common rock music symbol- to point. Later on in the film, as you notice young Oak doing these same things, you begin to believe Janel’s character as she theorizes about the reincarnation of Vaughn. When the film picks up 10 years after the accident and Oak enters the picture, he is not immediately welcomed with open arms, but quickly becomes a part of the rock band’s little family.

Tommy Ragen, who plays the 10-year-old Mighty Oak himself, made his acting debut in this film and he was quite impressive. Oak goes through quite a transformation as he becomes confident in the band and at school. He also goes through quite a hardship, dealing with the illness and addiction his single mother faces as she tries to care for him. We have a feeling that Tommy Ragen has quite the acting career ahead of him. I also couldn’t help thinking throughout the film that he looks just like a young Freddie Highmore, but that might just be me.

The Penavega Couple

Carlos and Alexa Penavega are a power couple that we love to see together on-screen. Except this time, they weren’t each other’s love interest. The IRL married couple have two adorable kids and often star in Hallmark movies alongside one another. They both began acting when they were very young- Alexa as Carmen in Spy Kids and Carlos as himself in Big Time Rush. In this film, Alexa plays Oak’s mother, who struggles with her health after serving in the U.S. military and being diagnosed with Lupus.

Carlos’ character, Pedro, who plays one of the original band members in Mighty Oaks’ “Army of Love”, gives Oak guitar lessons when he learns of the boy’s talent. The two bond as Oak joins the band and spends more time with friends who quickly become family. Pedro ends up serving as both an older brother and a father figure to the young boy who needs a supportive male role model. Carlos plays the role well!

My Only Complaint – The Wigs

My biggest problem with Mighty Oaks, had nothing to do with the story itself and everything to do with the wigs. At the beginning of the movie, which takes place ten years in the past, “Army of Love” is performing for their adoring audiences. I understand that rock stars have to look the part, which often means long luscious hair. I also understand that there had to be physical differences shown on the male characters to mark the passage of time. However, the wigs looked ridiculously fake! During the scenes with Vaughn Jackson, which were important to the progression of the story, I struggled to pay attention because I was so distracted by the wig that sat awkwardly on his head.

My thoughts on Mighty Oak

This movie made me feel the whole range of emotions. I laughed at the witty dialogue that spoke honestly about the realities of life- Nana Ghana’s character in particular cracked me up when she said, “Lie to boys, that’s what they’re there for” after finding out a secret that had been kept from her- and I cried at the portrayal of grief.

My heart constricted and grew throughout loss and love and characters finding their way home. It had me questioning the idea of reincarnation and the connectedness of our lives- even with total strangers. This movie was more than meets the eye. The music had me dancing and yet the message had me feeling deeply. Other viewers clearly felt the same way! Based on the Instagram post below, Mighty Oak scored an A according to its audience and from me.

Worth The Watch?

This movie is absolutely worth the watch! It’s toe-tappingly sweet and thought-provoking. You’ll want to hold your loved ones close and maybe even get up and dance. Mighty Oak will definitely teach you to be the main character in your own story! Go watch this film now, it’s available On Demand!

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