My One and Only
dir Richard Loncraine
scr Charlie Peters
prd Norton Herrick, Aaron Ryder
with Logan Lerman, Renée Zellweger, Mark Rendall, Kevin Bacon, Eric McCormack, Chris Noth, Nick Stahl, Steven Weber, Troy Garity, Robin Weigert, JC MacKenzie, Jon Jolles
release US 21.Aug.09
09/US 2h48
My One and Only
Crazy mamma: Zellweger and Lerman

bacon mccormack noth
berlin film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
My One and Only Based on the life of actor George Hamilton, this lively film is enjoyable but rather slight. And even as it turns rather sentimental and corny, the constant parade of vivid characters keeps us engaged.

In 1953, Ann Deveraux (Zellweger) finally gets tired of her cheating bandleader husband (Bacon), hitting the road with her teen sons George and Robbie (Lerman and Rendall). As they drive across the country, she turns to various men for help (McCormack, Noth, Stahl, Weber and Garity). George finally gets fed up with this, opting to stay with his aunt and uncle (Weigert and MacKenzie) in St Louis before joining his mother and brother in Los Angeles. And when Robbie's dream of becoming an actor stumbles, George discovers his own talent.

With a snappy script and excellent direction, the film looks great and is packed with fascinating people and offbeat situations. Most of the story unfurls from George's perspective as a coming-of-age tale, which is engagingly played by the likeable Lerman, who manages to find dark edges and undercurrents of emotion along the way. But things are thrown slightly out of balance by a bit too much emphasis on his wacky mother, a role for which Zellweger feels oddly miscast.

It's not that she's bad as Ann; she's great fun to watch as this vain, utterly bonkers woman who simply has no connection with reality. But the script feels like it was written for someone else, as men constantly tells her how beautiful she is, which frankly rings false. Meanwhile, each man is devastatingly handsome but darkly flawed--all superbly played by the strong supporting cast.

And even though the film doesn't shy away from the bleaker aspects of this road trip, the way it continually reverts to sunny silliness feels cheesy. At times the dialog is far too slick (there's even a joke about George's tan), and it's just too much when a film that's this relentlessly positive and hopeful tries to get sweet and emotional as well. That said, this is a wonderful story, and the film is so strongly well-made that it's consistently entertaining. Even if it doesn't stick with you much longer than the time it takes for the credits to roll.

cert 12 themes, language, innnuendo 12.Feb.09 bff

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall