A would-be Nashville star finds himself in hot water during a stay in Georgia in this drama based (very loosely) on the hit song of the same title. Travis Child (Dennis Quaid) is a country singer looking for his big break, crisscrossing the country playing honky-tonks with his younger sister (and manager), Amanda (Kristy McNichol), in tow. Travis has a bad habit of drinking too much and putting the moves on the wrong women, leaving tough-as-nails Amanda to bail him out. One night Travis runs afoul of Seth Ames (Don Stroud), the sheriff of a small Georgia town who isn't against using his fists to teach lawbreakers a lesson; thanks to Ames, Travis ends up behind bars, but Amanda is able to persuade a sympathetic state trooper, Conrad (Mark Hamill), to help raise bail. In exchange, Travis has to work off his debt as a bartender at a local watering hole (where he hopes he might get to play a few tunes for the customers), and between drawing beers and pouring shots, he meets a beautiful local girl amed Melody (Sunny Johnson). However, as romance begins to bloom between them, Travis find himself in trouble again when he discovers Melody already has a boyfriend -- Seth Ames. Both Dennis Quaid and Kristy McNichol do their own singing in The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, with Quaid also writing several of his character's tunes.
~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide