Thursday, April 7, 2016

Robert Edwards' ONE MORE TIME brings Christopher Walken back to his musical roots

Did you know that Christopher Walken began his career as a Broadway chorus boy? TrustMovies didn't realize this until much after the fact, even though he actually saw Walken in the Noel Coward/Bea Lillie musical High Spirits back in 1964. Now, here the guy is again, singing (but not dancing) in the smartly written and relatively entertaining dysfunctional family film, ONE MORE TIME, from writer/director Robert Edwards. As usual, Mr. Walken has "got it," singing as well as he acts and fitting perfectly into the excellent ensemble Edwards has created.

The filmmaker, pictured at left, proves especially good with dialog, turning out a number of choice moments, all of which are handled beautifully by his cast. From a one-night-stand in which his protagonist, Jude (Amber Heard, below, left) leaves her bedmate suddenly and to his mild consternation, to the following scene at a music studio and then to those that take place in the Hamptons, providing us with the family that seems to grow more dysfunctional scene by scene, Mr. Edwards embeds his necessary exposition very lightly and cleverly, while letting quiet little zingers fly.

Jude is the talented daughter of a famous crooner Paul Lombard, né Lippman (played by Mr. Walken, above, right, and below), who is still fondly remembered by folk who love romantic ballads but has done nothing new for quite some time. Down on her luck, finances, love life and all else, Jude crashes at Dad's house, to his unexpressed-but-still-there pleasure, though not particularly to that of the rest of the family.

This would include Paul's current wife Lucille (Ann Magnuson), Jude's sister Corinne (Kelli Garner), Jude's brother-in-law and ex-bedmate, Tim (Hamish Linklater), and he and Corinne's eight-year-old son, David (the thankfully un-cute Henry Kelemen).

Add to this Paul's lawyer, played by Oliver Platt, also a one-time bedmate of Jude (the girl gets around, and usually to not very appropriate places). Feelings emerge and are put back into storage, small events occur, and just maybe a little change is in store by film's end. Edwards never pushes too hard; his cast proves first-rate; and there is some pleasant music along the way: one pretty good song from Paul (his comeback, he hopes) and a couple of nice ones via Jude.

In addition to his smart dialog, the filmmaker is good with quiet, even silent, moments that reveal character, and he gifts each of his cast members with a juicy scene or two (there's a particularly nice one between Garner--shown below--and Magnuson late in the game). Heard's character is almost destructive enough to lose us, but the actress helps make us care, and Walken, who at this point in his career, need only to open his mouth and those wide protuberant eyes to make a fine impression, does that and lots more. Platt is, as ever, on the mark; it's great to see Magnuson (above, left) in a good role again; and Linklater comes through with his graceful, easy charm and appeal.

Nothing major here, but as dysfunctional family films go, this one is actually a pleasant ride. And its got music, too! From Starz Digital and running 97 minutes, One More Time (a very tired title, need we say) opens tomorrow, Friday, April 8, in New York City at the AMC Empire 25 and in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 and Music Hall 3. Simultaneously with its limited theatrical release, the movie will also be available via VOD.

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