Review of My One and Only

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An unusual road trip movie about a mother driving her two sons from New York to Pittsburgh to St. Louis and eventually to Hollywood in her quest to find a man to take care of them all. Starring Renee Zellweger, Chris Noth and Kevin Bacon.
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Movie Review: "My One and Only"

-- Rating: PG-13 (sexual content, language)
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: September 3, 2009
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Biography

Actor George Hamilton has never been shy about revealing small details about his life, such as his devotion to his mother Anne and his improbable rise to stardom. In "My One and Only," the well-tanned actor goes into much greater detail concerning his personal life by chronicling the adventures of Anne Devereaux (Renee Zellweger), a southern belle married to cheating bandleader Dan (Kevin Bacon). She finally can't continue to ignore the fact that he is constantly bedding new girls, so she packs up the kids and leaves.

Anne buys a gargantuan powder blue Cadillac and drives it to different locations throughout the country with her sons George (Logan Lerman) and his somewhat effeminate brother Robbie (Mark Rendall) in tow. At each stop, she looks up an old beau who might be the one who got away. She believes that marrying well is the best way to support her children, but she finds lots of stumbling blocks along the way. Anne has been out of the dating pool for so long that she doesn't realize that her southern charms and Blanche DuBois-like demeanor aren't what most men are looking for anymore.

Along the way, failed dalliances with a cruel, sadistic military man (Chris Noth) and ex-beau Charlie (Eric McCormack), who is more interested in younger women, begin to take their toll on Anne, who is in her forties. The constant traveling and the somewhat vagabond lifestyle are also taking a toll on George and Robbie, who begin to resent Anne. She finally settles on a man with a house painting business, Bill (David Koechner). Anne clearly doesn't love him, but she does love the fact that he is at least willing to have the talk about women with a poor, unsuspecting George.

One of the most interesting things about "My One and Only" is the psyche behind the character of Anne. In modern times, a woman has lot of available resources should she become divorced and have to raise two teenage boys alone. However, in the 1950s, which is when this film is set, women didn't have quite so many options. Anne is a true woman of her time, trapped into thinking that the only way she can support her sons is to marry a man of means. The thought of getting a job, asking for help, or even going back to school barely even crosses Anne's mind.

She does make one attempt to be a waitress, but it ends poorly because she has no work ethic or real skills. Somehow, Zellweger manages to turn this failed job into something of a triumph for Anne. In fact, Zellweger does such a fine job of portraying the many layers of Anne the fact that she really is a brave woman for undertaking this endeavor to find a man does not get lost in all of the action. Lest viewers forget, divorce was legal but still largely taboo in the 1950s. Most women put up with philandering or much worse behavior because they didn't want to be seen as single mothers by a cruel society that would judge them for their circumstances. Anne was brave enough to leave a cheating man and try to find better life for her kids.

This entire adventure is seen through the eyes of George, who begins to pine more and more for his father back east. Little does he realize at the time that Anne really does love him and his brother, despite her many shortcomings as a mother. Anne may not be the picture-perfect woman portrayed in1950s television shows, but she never stops trying. It takes George some time to see that fact, but the lesson obviously stuck, because the screenplay is something of an homage to Anne and her unevenness. The script was written by Charlie Peters; however, based on the details that are known about the real George Hamilton's life, it was obviously heavily influenced by the man himself.

Viewers don't have to be a fan of Hamilton to enjoy this film. In fact, younger audiences who weren't around when "Love at First Bite" was released might be pleasantly surprised to see how a grownup George makes it into the movie industry against all odds. It provides a suitable ending for an endearing film that is well written and acted. Director Richard Loncraine ensures that the action and characters will resonate with audiences whether they know who George Hamilton is or not.

Rating: 3 out of 5