Movie Review: My One and Only (2009)

Mark Rendall, Renee Zellweger and Logan Lerman in My One and Only

Photo: Freestyle Releasing

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised there is a mild bit of Oscar buzz surrounding Renee Zellweger and her performance in My One and Only, especially since it now seems as if every performance Zellweger gives is going to be no different than the last. She’s been nominated before for doing the same thing, why not this time? Right? Of course, this is hardly a ringing endorsement, but I will admit My One and Only isn’t the clichéd tedium I expected it to be based on the film’s generic trailer. Instead, it has several sweet family moments and an ending I really thought pulled things together nicely. As for Zellweger, she’s perfectly fine, but she has done little to really impress me since Cold Mountain in 2003 and of course Chicago one year earlier. However, Logan Lerman shows some potential in something of an anti-Zac Efron performance more focused on talent rather than looks. Who knows, maybe we have a rising star on our hands.

The film is a fictionalized account of the childhood of actor George Hamilton, or George Devereaux as he is known throughout the film until the end. Lerman stars as George at age 15 as he takes to the road with his mother Anne (Zellweger) and his half-brother Robbie (Mark Rendall). The family is on something of a road trip after Anne caught her husband (Kevin Bacon) cheating on her and decided that was enough. Having to be told what school her children attend and which one of them needs medicine daily, she isn’t exactly the picture perfect mother, but she shows ambition in a way we’ve all seen Zellweger portray before as she sets her sights on finding another husband to take care of her and the children.

We follow the family as they bounce from city to city, introducing us to various suitors played by the likes of Chris Noth (“Sex and the City”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Steven Weber (“Wings”) and David Koechner (Extract). Each attempt is met with one complication after another, always having to do with the suitor and occasionally having to do with family arguments. The end goal becomes California and by the time the story gets there we’ve witnessed a lot of growing up by all parties involved.

As I already said, Zellweger is her usual self here with the tight-lipped smile and half-open eyes, but more charm than many could bring to a character. Unfortunately we’ve seen it all before and for the entire duration of a film it now begins to wear on the audience. What was once cute and bubbly is now over and done with. Lerman, on the other hand, proves you can find work that doesn’t have to begin with the Disney Channel and doesn’t rely heavily on a massive 13-year-old female audience.

Seventeen-years-old now, Lerman was only eight when he played Mel Gibson’s young son in The Patriot and has since found himself a variety of roles, including what could be a major role in 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Lerman’s performance here isn’t a stand-out as much as it is toned down and professional. He doesn’t overact and in the end manages to pull the climactic scene together with a certain level of maturity.

Overall, My One and Only shows director Richard Loncraine has at least moved on from his last two cinematic stumbling blocks (Firewall and Wimbledon), but needs to go for something with some bite behind it if he really wants to wow an audience. I’m not sure if the currently-filming Clinton/Blair biopic The Special Relationship is it, but perhaps Peter Morgan crafted something Loncraine can really work with there.

As for My One and Only, in the theaters you will probably be hard-pressed to find it considering its extremely limited release, but if you are in need of a pick-me-up or a film that doesn’t drown in despair this should serve as a satisfying alternative.

GRADE: B-

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