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In 1953, after her womanizing bandleader husband Dan Hamilton [aka Deveraux] (Kevin Bacon) exhausts her patience, Ann Deveraux (Renee Zellwegger) takes her two sons George (Logan Lerman) and Robbie (Mark Rendall) from New York on a roadtrip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis - staying briefly and uncomfortably with her childless sister Hope (Robin Weigert) - and eventually Hollywood, in her quest to find a man to take care of them all. After several duds, she meets Bill Massey (David Koechner) whose family has a house paint business and appears to be most suitable.

Review by Louise Keller:
A sharp and witty script provides the fuel for this captivating road trip in which the potential husbands of Renee Zellweger's Ann Deveraux are the pit stops. It's a wonderful role for Zellweger, who shines brightly as the beautiful woman with hair of heavenly gold and lousy mother who believes that in the end everything works out. The protagonist is Anne's 15 year old son George, impressively played by Logan Lerman, whose journey is an emotional full circle as he struggles with his bizarre circumstances. I was hooked from the start of this discerning and entertaining film: I laughed, shed a quiet tear and was fascinated, intrigued and constantly surprised.

It all begins in Upper West Side New York, when Lerman's schoolboy George takes $6,000 out of his pocket in a car showroom to buy a pale blue Cadillac convertible. The car salesmen are surprised and so are we, as we learn the circumstances that brought him there. There are many wonderful moments as Anne and sons George and Robbie (Mark Rendall, terrific) hit the road to Boston, Pittsburgh, St Louis and Hollywood. Pay good attention, because Charlie Peters' script is jam-packed with great lines like 'Never contradict a woman when wearing underwear; it puts you at a great disadvantage'; 'Never look in the rear view mirror, it makes no difference what's behind you'; 'A woman never appears more intelligent to a man than when she's listening to him'; 'I love my sister; being near her is what I hate'; 'There's too much sun in LA, it's not depressing enough'.

Kevin Bacon is well cast as Ann's unfaithful band-leader husband, ironically whose only hit is the song with the film's title. It's an important role, even though he only appears intermittently through the film, as we need to understand the nature of their tumultuous relationship and how Anne is able to eventually differentiate between love and need. Anne conveniently has an ex-boyfriend in every city which makes the search for a husband all the easier. Like Chris Noth's back-slapping military man Harlan ('Now I'm going to be top dog'), Nick Stahl's James Dean-like Bud, who believes a car is a symbol of latent sexuality, Charlie (Eric McCormack) who likes young girls and David Koechner's Bill Massey with gentleman's blue eyes. Robin Weigert and J.C. MacKenzie have important but small roles as Ann's barren sister Hope and her husband Tom, who gifts her with the opportunity to do the right thing.

Everything works including the 1950s setting which director Richard Loncraine describes skilfully in sensibility, production design and music. Some of the scenes are so delicious, I nearly licked my lips. Like the scene at the bar when Anne is having a martini.... But most importantly the film never forgets what is at its heart, which is about the love of a mother for her son and his journey in understanding it. The fact that the story is allegedly based on executive producer George Hamilton's teenage years adds extra spice.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With George Hamilton as executive producer we have to assume that this memoir from a couple of years in his teens is faithful to the facts - which are twisted enough to be entirely truthful. But it's not just a salute to truth in filmmaking, but a tribute to Charlie Peters' wonderful script, Richard Loncraine's masterful, sensitive direction and the outstanding performances of the entire cast.

Funny, surprising, moving and uplifting, the film soars in a restrained, early 50s kind of way, lovingly recreating not only the era but the social mood. Renee Zellwegger is splendid as Ann the glamorous, poised, optimistic but conflicted wife and mother, her emotional journey thoroughly satisfying. Ann is anxious to find a man to take care of her and her two boys (each by a different father) a mindset evident even in the early 50s. Like other American women, she discovers that actually, she could manage without a man, and largely because of her own strengths and skills.

Logan Lerman plays young George, and his face is a striking echo of what young George Hamilton's might have looked like. It certainly helps our mental association. His performance is beautifully understated, as is his narration, as he tells his story with a combination of intimacy and humour. Mark Rendall is equally impressive as his older, effeminate brother, and the supporting cast of man wooing Anne provide more than comedic insights. David Koechner stands out because his is the largest part, and then there is the ever excellent Kevin Bacon as Dan, the flawed musician who desperately wants to redeem himself - and deep down knows he can't. Bacon is adept at finding the perfect delivery for emotions that cut deep, with superb subtlety.

The film's mood is well shaped by a marvellous soundtrack that resonates with the era, from the source music to Mark Isham's score (not to mention Dillon O'Brian's great title song) and is superbly photographed by Marco Pontecorvo. In short, it's a wonderfully complete, handsomely crafted film (terrific production design by Brian Morris) that offers both entertainment value and truths about the human condition.

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(US, 2009)

CAST: Renee Zellwegger, Logan Lerman, Kevin Bacon, Mark Rendall, Troy Garity, David Koechner, J. C. MacKenzie, Eric McCormack, Chris Noth, Molly C. Quinn, Nick Stahl, Phoebe Strole

PRODUCER: Norton Herrick, Aaron Ryder

DIRECTOR: Richard Loncraine

SCRIPT: Charlie Peters


EDITOR: Humphrey Dixon

MUSIC: Mark Isham (title song Dillon O'Brian)


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes



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