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On The Road Again. And Again. And Again. And Again.

By Brian Prisco | Film | September 10, 2009 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | September 10, 2009 |

Remember the good old days? Well, that’s probably the Alzheimer’s. It really says something when a movie studio goes for that unheralded demographic: the septuagenarians and beyond. I realize there are parents whose parenting skills consist of slapping in a video like The Teletubbies or Wubbzy or Fqhwhgads full of bright colors and snazzy sounds to occupy the attention of their toddlers while Mom sneaks out back for a couple tokes off Mama’s Little Helper, but I never thought of applying the same principle to senior citizens. That’s exactly what you get with the dreadful pablum of My One and Only. It’s a 1950’s road picture masquerading as a pseudo-biopic, which plays like someone glued together old forgotten stage plays with undigested oatmeal. It jumps from coming-of-age story to romantic screwball comedy to melodrama to zany love story to period drama like the screenwriter kept falling asleep at his typewriter and then started writing something entirely different upon waking. A cavalcade of talent parades through the film, with the attention span of someone walking the red carpet of the Daytime Emmys. It’s a dreadful picture with awful performances and boring directionless plot, but no one’s going to care because the target audience is going to spend most of the movie shouting about how beautiful Myrna’s funeral arrangements were and shuffling off to the bathroom.

Supposedly, this is based on the true life story of George Hamilton’s mother. Which kind of blows my mind, because really, in this day and age barely anyone has any frame of reference of who George Hamilton is, other than he’s the burnt sienna colored dude who looks like a game show host. Or maybe from that vampire movie the one time, you know, the one that was supposed to be funny, but not with Jim Carrey in it. So why the hell would someone give a flying fuck about his MOTHER is beyond me, particularly when the premise is so offensively outmoded and cliche; it plays like someone shoved old Betamaxed episodes of “The Dating Game” up Donna Reed’s ass.

Anne Devereaux (Renee Zellweger) is a Southern belle socialite who has long gone un-rung. I guess this when she enters the screen drawling pitifully with pitiful witticisms uttered like someone transcribing high school productions of Tennessee Williams and Oscar Wilde they overheard while giving closet-case-confused blowjobs to seniors behind one of the curtains. Anne catches her philandering bandleader husband Dan (Kevin Bacon) giving the trombone slide to a gal in the marital bed. So she packs up a suitcase and picks up her sons and goes to reclaim one of her old suitors. Of the two sons we’ve got George (Logan Lerman), who emulates Holden Caulfield and spends most of the movie bitching at his mother and complaining about how he wants to go home to New York and dear old Dad. And then there’s Robbie (Mark Randall), the flamingly gay theatre wannabe, who does needlepoint, flaps his wrists like he’s trying to fly to Fire Island, and when not mincing, makes sure to gasp and kind of lisp so you can’t POS-I-BLY forget he’s supposed to be gay.

The movie wanders like a nursing home escapee. It starts out with Anne driving from New York to Boston to progressively lamer locales (Pittsburgh), to the even worse (St. Louis). Along the way, she proceeds to churn through progressively more unsuitable suitors, played by terribly miscast actors. She strikes up engagements with most of them. Because apparently, they DID have homosexuals in the 1950s, but not divorce. Everything’s sort of moving along until the movie decides to go all small-town stay-at-home struggling momma on us. When that doesn’t seem to be doing much, it takes a wild Grapes of Wrath tearass towards California where it decides to try to end seven or eight times like indecisive in-laws fighting over a life-support plug.

I like Renee Zellweger. I choose to remember the stuff she did in Texas — running away from Leatherface and Matthew McConaughey and singing Sugarhigh with Coyote Shivers on top of Empire Records — and I was glad when she won the Oscar for Cold Mountain. Squishface has quickly sold all her cred for me, and I’m pretty sure this was the last lemon wedge in the pucker. We’re supposed to buy that Anne was some sort of debutant that went to pot. Zellweger just turned 40, but they got her looking like the motherfucking Crypt Keeper. And her accent was atrocious — only to be topped by her co-star Mr. Bacon who apparently decided to do an imitation of Scatman Crothers as Foghorn Leghorn. Fortunately, everyone involved decided to drop the accent through the last act.

Because everyone knows a 1950’s woman is good for nothing except vacuuming astroturf and making meatloaf, Anne decides to find a man who’ll take care of her and her two odious offspring. Someone threw a dart at an old collection of stock characters from Sherwood Schwartz’s notes and came up with some doozies. Steven Weber is a pennyless playboy who picks Anne’s pocketbook before stiffing her with the tab. Chris Noth, a dashing military man, sweeps in and saves the day — only to prove to be an — drumroll please — abusive militant hardass towards her kids. She ducks off to Pittsburgh where all the guys want to rape her in the back of limos. Except Nick Stahl, who plays a greaser infatuated with the much older lady. He’s pretty convinced he was channeling James Dean, but it came off more like he was reenacting his audition tape for The Outsiders. Oh, and Eric McCormack was in this part too, but he didn’t so much have a character as he was a 14-minute punchline to make a crack about Anne being ancient. Everyone knows 40 year-old women aren’t allowed to be attractive anymore. See note re: vacuum/meatloaf.

For some odd reason, the movie decides to be about George for the next couple scenes or so. George gets let down by dear old Daddy-do, which comes as a surprise only to people who have never seen a movie before ever. They decide to give him a love interest who doesn’t have a name (Molly Quinn — Castle’s daughter on “Castle”), but does have an incredibly awkward drive-in scene where she shows her lack-of-rack to George — which I hope is the only reason Logan Lerman was willing to derail his promising career. This kid makes Hermie from Summer of 42 look like Jay-fucking-Z. (Do you even know what that fucking movie is? Of course not. That’s why you would hate THIS fucking movie.)

The family packs up and moves to St. Louis to live with Anne’s sister, Hope. They must have gotten sick of making a screwball comedy so they decided to layer this entire sequence with all sorts of pathos and melodrama and speeches overwrought with cornball sentiment, it was like making a sample tape to send to the Hallmark Channel. The only bright spot of this entire sequence was David Koechner as yet another — and the finest written — possible suitor. When David Koechner is the bright spot of your film, you need to put down the pen and pick up the shotgun and scratch the ol’ Hemmingway Highway.

But I’m not done! The movie decides to go straight to California. Stuff happens, but if I explained it to you, you’d probably just be confused. Even trying to work it out in my head, I’m lost. At least 17 really, really stupid things happen during the progressive denouement. Someone dies, someone gets noticed by a producer on set, the laws of thermodynamics and general relativity are violated by a Greyhound bus, and George decides to become a writer. This is what happens when you move to Los Angeles.

George Hamilton killed Merv Griffin with the idea for this story. Charlie Peters penned it: and even though I really liked Her Alibi, the motherfuckers last credit was Krippendorf’s Tribe. Richard Loncraine directed, and the man who brought us the genius Richard III with Ian McKellan and RDJ spent the winter of his discontent making Wimbledon and Firewall. (You killed Paul Bettany, Loncraine. You fucking killed him!) I’m pretty sure this film is going to stomp the piss out of any notion that Squishface is a romantic lead and relegate her back to the comic secondary stuff she excels at. As for this fucking movie, well, hey everyone needs a Christmas present for that elderly relative you don’t often visit. Because of the cat pee smell. That’ll be $11.99.

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