Saturday, January 9, 2010


Original Title: The One and Only
Year: 1978
Director: Carl Reiner
Writer: Steve Gordon
Genre: Romantic Comedy

1951: Andy Schmidt is in his last year of college. Taking life easy and always a saucy joke on his lips, he manages to win fellow student Mary's heart, although she's already otherwise engaged. But getting a job after college turns out much harder than expected; most directors take offense at his free interpretation of his roles. Desperate, he tries in wrestling. To avoid getting beaten up he stages the fights - and incidentally invents show-wrestling.

This movie tricked me. It made me think it was a wrestling movie, but really turned out to be a romantic comedy with a little "wrestling" sprinkled in there. While it did make me think of the wrestling-world-famous Gorgeous George, it was just too much a vehicle for Henry Winkler to act crazy for me to really get into it.

Winkler is a far cry from the Fonz here, playing a very cocky actor, Andy Schmidt, who seems a little flamboyant despite being a bit girl crazy and is anything but cool. I found the character pretty annoying, and if I knew someone like him in real life I would just think he is a dick and avoid him entirely. From the beginning, Andy is shown from childhood wanting desperately being a showman, often at the expense of his audience. There were some funny moments with Winkler's delivery, like his calling his in-laws Mom and Tom, and he actually makes a decent physical actor at times. His wrestling blows, but it works into his character I guess. When he starts doing his different wrestling characters, the Andy character finally starts to work. Any fans of WWF for instance in the 1980s may see some Andy Schmidt in there.

I suppose it is fitting that such an outgoing and over the top character would be drawn to professional wrestling. What kept that aspect of it interesting was that the film took place in the 1950s... at a time when these flamboyant characters were not a piece of the business yet.

The supporting cast, (and everyone else next to Winkler definitely feels supporting), are not fantastic but serviceable I suppose. Kim Darby plays Andy's love interest. She's not great, but charming in a way for some reason. She's cute, and I did find myself laughing when she would get angry at Andy and use profanity. The other that could be considered stand out I suppose is Hervé Villechaize showing up as a wrestler and a perverted little man, and is thankfully a high point in the film. He really isn't all that great, and doesn't go far beyond what little people usually are in comedies, but something about him being a little lecherous prick helped me out.

Oh, and there is a brief wrestling appearance by Rowdy Roddy Piper, so that kinda rules I guess.

As far as Carl Reiner films go that I have seen, which are not that many, this definitely ranks the worst. I'm not even sure that Reiner is known for directing despite having some noteworthy additions on his resume; Oh, God, The Jerk, Summer Rental, and Summer School being a few. I did not like in The One and Only how Reiner handled time passing. It was often hard to tell how much time was elapsing, which definitely lessened the impact of Andy's unemployment or his absence from his family due to his wrestling schedule for instance. I suppose Reiner told Winkler to go nuts, but his character still was just a bit out of control and unrealistic. I'll play it safe and blame it on both of them.

The story had its moments, but really didn't feel all that original for whatever reason. I think The One and Only just caught me at a wrong time. It certainly tried its best to kill this theme I have going here. I liked some of the interactions between characters. There is a funny scene where Andy's wrestler friends visit his apartment while his wife's parents are in town. The giant Elephant sits across the room and the midget hits on Mom. It's awkward and pretty good. At another point, Andy does the cliche throwing a rock accidentally through a window instead of just against it, but the dialog following helped it be a complete loss.

Bleh, I'm tired of writing about this. The story could have been interesting, but you know... Who cares? No one is going to read this much less see the film anyway. Minimal wrestling, too much cheesy acting and humor.

Best to avoid. It's not terrible, but it's completely forgettable.

Score: 4 / 10


FakeShemp said...

but thats how I like my Winkler? Not like the fonz.

pickleloaf said...

then this one might be for you. bow ties and fuzzy underwear! GOLD!