Posted on 17 August 2009.
The search for love; the search for your “one and only” rather, is at the heart of this road trip/coming of age tale, based on real events. My One and Only, the new movie titled on a hit song by Dan Deveraux, father to real-life actor George Hamilton, is a parable of sorts. Known for his almost leather-like tan in real life, here he is merely a boy, George Deveraux. The story is a journey of discovery for George and his family (primarily his mother), during their travels on a coast-to-coast trip from New York To California. There are few surprises, though put in the context of real-life events that happened, it carries itself to a marginally watchable film.
An early scene places us in the middle of a fight of a wealthy Manhattan couple that has clearly been through the drill before. The cynical, womanizing Dan is caught with his pants down and bed occupied by another conquest, while his wife Anne (Renee Zellwegger) arrives home earlier than expected. They have such a been there, done that, routine to things that Anne even offers to help dress the “tramp” caught with Dan as she exits during the blowup. Anne threatens to leave Dan (“for good this time”), taking their two sons with her. Dan laughs it off knowing the whole time that Anne has no means of supporting herself. Thus begins the aforementioned trip that starts east and moves west.
"Cruisin' down the street in my 6-4." Not quite "Boyz N The Hood."
Anne and George share screen time for the remainder of the journey. While Dan’s band plays to packed crowds on the road, leading the crew and charming the audience to his “one and only” hit song, Anne’s quest is much different on their road, as she stupidly and stubbornly attempts to find a husband who can fund a life for herself and her sons. Unfortunately, George clearly sees their quest to be more about herself, as he and half-brother Robbie are continuously on the move from city to city, school to school, all t he while, Anne is moving from man to man. While it is told through George’s eyes, Anne’s travails are the highlighted ones, as she stubbornly and stupidly tries to carve out a life away from Dan.
The film is told in a very direct narrative and directed without any hint of visual flair by Richard Loncraine (Firewall, Wimbledon). It is 1953 and he captures the time accurately (as far as I can guess, I am not that old). He clearly yearns for a more elegant period, emphasizing the traits of a gentlemen and blue-collar work ethics. To his credit, he leads us down a path following this troupe, leaving the audience thinking we might expect to see a certain result, and not entirely seeing it in the end. At the same time, knowing that the story is based on George’s life without taking too many liberties, we had a pre-determined result that was expected.
It’s Mark Rendall’s “Robbie” who steals most of the scenes. The boy who wants nothing more than to be an actor had everybody eagerly anticipating another jaunty one-line zinger from him. The flamboyant half-brother to George (Robbie is not Dan’s son) is an obviously gay kid who “won’t be the man in any relationship,” so says one of Anne’s suitors played by Chris Noth (Sex And The City’s “Mr. Big”). Speaking of Noth, he is one of many actors who appeared with not much to do. Former Terminator 3 star Nick Stahl has a curiously small role. Eric McCormack has an even lesser appearance. Finally, Kevin Bacon steps in as ex-husband Dan.
Young George is played by Logan Lerman; Logan Wade Lerman to be exact. He is named after two characters from X-Men series of comics apparently; Wade is the first name of “Deadpool” and Logan, the first name of “Wolverine.” Why am I sharing that with you? To this point, that is the most interesting thing about him, until this movie. He does an admirable job of being one of the main characters and holding the screen. While not a lot is required of him emotionally, he doesn’t misstep at all either. He can soon be seen in Gerard Butler’s Gamer, so we’ll keep an eye out for how his career develops.
George routinely sought the "5-finger discount" from his Mom's purse.
On the flipside, I wondered aloud after (during) this movie whether or not Zellwegger’s career is on the downside now. She had reached mega-stardom after hits Bridget Jones Diary, Chicago and Cold Mountain in the first part of this decade, but she hasn’t had a hit since teaming with Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man in 2005, which wasn’t a runaway success. I think she is struggling to find her niche as she has bounced around from dramas to comedy, and while it is great for her to stretch herself as an actress (I wish more people in her position would), perhaps it is a cautionary tale for why people don’t do so more often. She has struggled to find audiences for 4 straight movies now and I suspect this will continue in that tradition and become the 5th. I am merely musing about her prospects, not necessarily saying that I don’t like her or she doesn’t deserve a better vehicle. We’ll see.
As for the film, there are pointless asides in the coming of age for George; an encounter with a girl you think might lead to a love story that doesn’t and the repetition of Ms. Deveraux’s trials in searching for a husband become agonizing. She is in continuous chase of money, feeling being wealthy is a rite not a privilege. Her great looks cause jealousy in her family, but her age and children are a detriment to being able to find a man. Her dalliances with an ex-military man, a mentally ill man who is partial heir to fortune, a stop for prostitution, and more, all place the focus squarely on her choices and troubles. Anne’s struggles with finding a husband are a slap in the face to women and at the same time an expose on their often hidden predatory nature and desires. To have Loncraine tell it, in that era in particular, it seems a woman longed to be kept by a man of wealth. Poor George Hamilton.
Ultimately, nothing incredibly outlandish happens. The saving grace for the film would be if it could play to jam-packed houses of blue-hairs it might have a chance. The audience (strangely so, in my eyes) seemed to enjoy it a fair amount. It was very nostalgic for them. While older heads may get a lot of humor of it, I don’t suspect it’s box office prospects are remotely strong in the least. This really has the look and feel of a direct-to-DVD film.