The film's main character, Phillip may have been inspired partly on George Hickenlooper himself. Both are from Missouri, left for Hollywood, established themselves in the film industry and have worked with Jeff Bridges and Molly Ringwald (Hickenlooper worked with Bridges on the 1992 documentary Picture This! and with Ringwald in the 1993 short Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade).
Phillip (Trevor Saint John), left after high school to make his fortune. He returns to his Midwest hometown of Cuba. He has a reputation of having "made it" in the southern California movie industry. Karen Black plays Phillip's mom. Natasha Gregson Wagner plays Phillip's special needs sister, Sarah Ruth. The film opens as two locals with highway vests marked "Animal Control" pick up a dog carcass on the main road. Phillip arrives in the back of a taxi. The town's theater has been boarded up for ten years. The Foster's Freeze is still open for business. Everyone including a local police officer seems to remember Phillip.