I don't know what the more correct title of the movie is. Some call it Have Dreams Will Travel, some call it A West Texas Children's Story and I don't know where either title was originally used.
It's about the adventure that Cassie and Ben have after her parents die and his don't even notice that he leaves without saying anything. It's also about trauma processing, communication in relationships (parental, friendships and romantic). That's what I see in it at least.
Cassie: I think it's time for us to leave.
Cassie: Look. Those two people who you live with. They're nice and everything, but-
Ben: My parents?
Cassie: Right. But from what I can tell, they don't really have anything to offer you and they certainly don't have a thing to offer me.
Ben: So, where're we goin'?
Cassie: Baltimore. I have an aunt and uncle there. I haven't seen them since I was five but from what I can remember they're both extremely hip.
The overly compressed sound (accoustically compressed, not in terms of saving storage) is so cinematic that it's conspicuous for a movie made in this century. But it fits the overly grainy film-look and does a good job at creating this big-life-story vibe that dominates the whole movie. Like many dramas this movie has a recurring melody, creating a melodramatic yet optimistic mood.
The characters are so well defined at first that it almost came as a positive surprise that they both have deeper personalities. But I soon got used to the movie not becoming as comedic as I first thought it might be.
There is something about some of the dialogues that make them refreshing and simultaneously irregular for child characters and very fitting for these particular child characters.
Cassie: See, a real plan is more than just some pipe dream.
Ben: Pipe dream?
Cassie: A pipe dream is an unrealistic fantasy that deludes oneself into thinking that it's an actual plan. It's a very popular expression. I'm surprised you've never heard of it before.
Ben: I didn't say I'd never heard it.
Cassie: Anyway, a real plan is an actual goal that you believe in enough to create a set of circumstances. Which leads you to, and into, a plan. Comprende?
Ben: Where do you come up with this stuff? I mean, what part of your brain works so hard it makes you think and talk like that?
Cassie: My father was a professor with a very wide vocabulary and lots of unique ideas. When he wasn't teaching his students, he taught me.
Ben: So what does your mom do?
Cassie: She never did anything.
The last line of that quote may have a different meaning that I thought when I watched the movie for the first time.
The fact that I was surprised by the dramatic loss of Cassie's facade later on may make me naive, but for me it just means that I got a non-obvious important change of the story route. And it's nice to get a story told with a non-obvious route. Whether that's because you're tired, three, stupid, naive or because of excellent writing doesn't really matter. Other viewers may have been able to deduct more about Cassie early on than I was, with her efforts to do things in grown-up ways. I didn't even know what Ben meant when he asked Cassie what she's hiding. That just created all the more potential to be sucked in by emotions to be discovered by my naive movie-drama graving brain.
Over time I think Ben proved that he is the more grown-up one in the relationship. Not by having a large vocabulary or a life plan, but by simply addressing the issue he sees.
In the end, Ben makes his parents choose (in a away) what's more important for them to have - their passionate hobbies or their son - and decides for them at the same time. The result is the most glorious mixing of (fake) sad cry tears with (fake) happy cry tears I've seen in a mov- anywhere really.
I sort of expected this movie to end without any closure. It seemed like one of these movies. But not only did it have a closure for Ben's parents and a happy ending for his part of the story. It even has a happier ending above and after that, depicting the best possible futures Cassie and Ben could have perceived to have together. An utopistic extra happy ending that I didn't see necessary. I keep saying that I'd like to see more movies without a happy ending. This one has two but also shows that a movie can still be as emotional and melodramatic as it is even with a double happy endling. Maybe they felt they needed to quickly tell how happy they both end up in the future so that no viewer with a similar life story or trauma kills themselves after watching the movie.
I think it's interesting that AnnaSophia Robb (Cassie) isn't seen more in movies as an adult now. She has this sort of model face that men find so beautiful and she can act, I think. Maybe she's working more as a model. Cayden Boyd too. He looks like a model for a shaver commercial now. But he only had some small TV show roles in recent years. I haven't seen him in any other role. Maybe he sucks at acting.