This well-crafted movie is loosely based on a hit ballad by Bobby Russell. Amanda Child (Kristy McNichol) plays manager to her older brother Travis (Dennis Quaid), an aspiring country rock singer. He has a penchant for pretty girls and that spells constant trouble. One night a drunken Travis winds up in jail in a small Georgia town after Seth (Don Stroud), a tough cop, beats him up. Conrad (Mark Hamill), a friendly state trooper who takes a liking to Amanda, gets the singer released by landing him a job as a bartender at a local roadhouse.
Kristy McNichol is superb as a loving sister who genuinely believes her brother has talent and can make it to the big time in Nashville. However, though she admits she is "16 going on 47," Amanda must learn the hard way that her dreams aren't her brother's.
Dennis Quaid continues to impress as a versatile actor; his convincing portrait of Travis catches both the character's charm and his vulnerability. Mark Hamill as the tender cop and Arlen Dean Snyder as the owner of the roadside bar offer strong portraits of males with more on their minds than machismo.
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia is a "people picture" with rousing music (Quaid and McNichol both sing), a revealing glimpse of life in a small Southern town, and a storyline that deals sensitively with the moral issue of how difficult it is to allow a loved one make his or her own way through life. Letting go in this sense is a true sign of charity.