Movie Review - One Chance

This film is meant to be an inspirational story of a young, working class man pursuing his dream despite so many forces being against him. The movie fails to be that inspirational because it doesn't properly balance the forces against him or delve into the real and true hardships. It becomes a rather non-rousing story of a lame, white, British guy. Writer Justin Zackham (The Bucket List) and director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) skirt over what would be the heavy weight of the story, probably because its main actor is known for his comedic abilities, so they probably wanted to utilize that and not do a serious biopic but a lighter and fluffier piece. This is of course acceptable, yet it makes it difficult to sympathize and ultimately care about this man.

James Corden is an actor in England who is rather well-known there. He's done several films of note, including The History Boys (2006) and Begin Again (2014), but he's not well-known in the United States. This will change next year because it was announced that Corden will replace Craig Ferguson as the host of The Late Late Show on CBS. Here, he plays Paul Potts, the young, opera singer from the UK who rose to fame in 2007 and whose subsequent memoir was titled One Chance.

This movie starts when he's nine-years-old and follows how he was steadfast in his goal to be an opera singer for 20 years and how it built to a moment where he had an audition that finally recognized his talent and made his dream come true. That audition was his so-called "one chance." However, the title is rather misleading because Paul actually had more than one chance. In reality, he had two.

The one chance that made him a star was in 2007 when Paul auditioned in front of celebrity music producer Simon Cowell for the TV series Britain's Got Talent. Yet, in this movie, we see that around 2004, Paul traveled to Venice, Italy, to study and train at a performing arts school, specifically focusing on opera. While he's in Italy, he gets the opportunity to audition for Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most famous opera singers alive today.

Therefore, the movie should be called "two chances." First chance was Pavarotti. The second chance was Cowell. There are people who do dream and struggle, only to get singularly one chance and only one chance to change their lives, and once that chance is gone, it's gone. What this movie proves is that in today's world, most people who live in privileged countries like England or the United States, often get multiple chances. It's simply about not giving up. This is the basic message of the movie.

Where Zackham's script or Frankel's direction fails is the space between Paul's two choices. The movie opens with Paul being chased by bullies. From then through half the movie, Paul is constantly threatened with violence from bullies, almost to a comedic degree. It's one thing to have Paul bullied as a nine-year-old but he's continued to be harassed into his twenties, and it was as if the filmmakers gave Paul bullies just to have some element of violence when it was unneeded and unexplained.

Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The Damned United) plays Paul's father and his disapproval and scolding of Paul is understandable and explained in the movie. The bullies who chase Paul aren't given the same treatment. This is a shame because a lot of attention is granted to them when that time could have been better devoted.

Later in the movie, Paul starts to have a series of really serious health problems. He has an ear-drum issue. He has his appendix burst. He has thyroid problems and he gets hit by a car. All these are serious things, but the movie treats each health problem as a joke and then skirts right over them. I don't think the film should have dwelled on any of the health problems, but I wish there was more of an acknowledgement or addressing of these health problems.

I wish this because this is the weight of Paul's struggle. Without it, I don't know why I should care about this guy. Yes, he has a great voice, but as we learn in this movie, so do other people. Corden is affable and a decent actor that he somewhat sells it, but it's not enough.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 42 mins. 


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