We’re suckers for underdogs. That is a fact. Our attachment to the character is unavoidable. There is always something from their struggle that resonates with our life, even if we have almost nothing in common with the person. Paul Potts is that underdog, and even though I have nothing in common with him (except maybe a shared interest in opera), I was rooting for us him to win. Yes, I realize I already knew how the film would end, but One Chance makes it seem new.
Paul Potts (James Corden) is more flamboyant than the other children, and his interest in the arts (namely opera) makes him the target of bullies in school. Lacking the support of his father, and obviously the kids at school, he buries his dream well into adulthood behind the uniform of a cellphone salesman.
It is said that behind every great man is a great woman. For a gay man like me, that could mean my mom, a good friend or even a very supportive drag queen. For Paul Potts, it would have to be his girlfriend Julz (Alexandra Roach), who pushed Paul to be part of an exclusive opera training program in Italy. After meeting his idol, Pavarotti, and basically being told he’d never be a great opera singer, Potts goes back home, more disillusioned than ever. His nerves get the best of him, but he has one more chance to make his dreams come true, and it’s on Britain’s Got Talent.
The past is often over-exaggerated in retrospect, especially in the retelling of a person’s life. Whether or not this was Paul Potts’ completely unfabricated past is irrelevant. If you follow Britain’s Got Talent (the show that gave us the gem that is Susan Boyle), you already vaguely know Paul’s history, and are more than a little familiar with the outcome. Even though we already know the ending, director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) thinks the story leading up to it is worth knowing, as well. The story lacks the comical wit of The Devil Wears Prada, and it doesn’t quite reach the emotional apex of Marley & Me. But there’s a reason this film is considered a “crowd-pleaser,” and that is because it takes you on a roller coaster of emotions where the highs aren’t too high, and the lows aren’t too low. It is just the perfect, balanced mixture to have you content with the ending, and leave you feeling the warm and fuzzies.
I’m a fan of opera, so any film that incorporates the music will automatically put a smile on my face, but that isn’t the most extraordinary part of this film. The performances are what drive this film, and each one is done skillfully, but the greatest asset this film has is James Corden. I’ve seen Corden in more minor roles in British films and television shows, so I already had an appreciation for him. All of that changed when I saw him in this leading role. This film ends up being about two stars: Paul Potts and the actor who portrays his, James Corden. This is easily his break-out performance, and I already look forward to seeing more of him in major motion pictures, like the upcoming film Into the Woods, where he plays the Baker.
Going to see a film is a gamble. You ultimately won’t know whether or not you’ll like a movie until the credits roll. One Chance eliminates any doubts, especially since it is a considered a “crowd-pleaser” for a reason. With a great soundtrack and an amazing performance by Corden, you won’t regret taking a chance on this film.
RATING: ★★★★★★★(7/10 stars)
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