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“A Love Letter to a Loopy Mom”

Cause Celeb George Hamilton’s early childhood has been turned into the charming comedy “My One And Only” with a winning performance by Renee Zellweger as Hamilton’s harebrained mother.

In 1953, Anne Deveraux (Zellweger) catches her Bandleader hubby (Kevin Bacon) in bed with yet another bimbo. She grabs her two boys Robbie and George, buys a snazzy new Cadillac, and begins a cross country sojourn to snag a new rich hubby. Along the way, she dates some of the most eligible bachelors (Eric McCormack, Chris Noth, Steven Weber), all wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The story is told through the eyes of young George (Logan Lerman, “3:10 To Yuma”); a frustrated boy who just wants a normal life, but has to bail every time his mother gets in trouble. This story has been told before, Susan Sarandon’s “Nowhere But Here” and Oscar nominated “Tumbleweeds” come to mind, but “My One and Only” mixes family drama with 1950s nostalgia for the years before Rock n Roll, when big band still ruled. Director Richard Loncraine (“Wimbledon” and HBO’s “The Gathering Storm”) sets a jubilant mood, evoking a sense of whimsy in its bright colors, elegant clothes and swing music.

Writer Charlie Peters based the film on conversations he had with Hamilton about his youth, and though only a film executive produced by The King of Tan would have the character George Hamilton revered as an actor of depth and a writer with a voice, Hamilton’s story is nonetheless heartfelt. He recollects two selfish broken people incapable of raising children, but whom he loves despite their failings. Peters fills the script with witty banter and inside jokes like Hamilton’s mother telling him his pale skin desperately needs sun.

Zellweger is a delight, having to project both grace and the tragedy of portraying an over-aging pixie getting too old to be fishing for rich husbands, when there are 20-something gold diggers out there willing to do anything.

Lerman, an intelligent young actor, must show a rebellion towards his upbringing while never coming off bratty. He’s giving the film’s role as anchor and controls the story admirably. As the flamboyant brother, Mark Rendall gets all the best lines and has winning comic timing. Also memorable is Molly Quinn from TV’s “Castle” as a precocious love interest, concurrently Lolita-esque and innocent. Special mention should go to Robin Weigert, as Anne’s uptight, jealous of her little sister’s good fortunes. It could have been a one-dimensional role, but Weigert finds the pathos in the character’s dissatisfactions

The suitors, though, are paper thin. Their episodic story-lines propel evidence of Anne’s bad choices, but the talented lot (McCormack, Noth, Weber) never get an opportunity to stand out. Only Bacon, as the wayward husband and father, who hates himself for failing his family, succeeds. Grade: B+

 

 

 
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