When I read George Hamilton’s dishy descriptions of traveling with his ditsy socialite mother in his autobiography, “Don’t Mind If I Do” (2008), I thought she’d make a great Americana screen character. Obviously, so did screenwriter Charlie Peters and director Richard Loncraine. Because she’s is front-and-center in this lighthearted, nostalgic comedy that begins in the summer of 1953.
When Southern belle Ann Devereaux (Renee Zellweger) returns to her Manhattan apartment and finds her feckless bandleader husband, Dan (Kevin Bacon), in bed with another woman, she instinctively knows that it’s time to forge a new future. So she loads her two teenage sons into a baby-blue Cadillac Coupe de Ville, paid for in cash, and embarks on a meandering road trip from New York to Los Angeles – with stops in Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Phoenix – to search for a new man and a new life.
While his obliviously gay, older half-brother Robbie (Mark Rendell) obsesses about fashion and theater, 15 year-old George (Logan Lerman) is an aspiring writer who just wants to finish school. But first, Ann’s disastrous husband-hunting expedition includes Wallace (Steven Weber), a Boston businessman who’s in worse financial straits than she; Harlan Williams (Chris Noth), a zealous, authoritarian Army colonel; Charlie (Eric McCormack), a former suitor who now has a much younger girlfriend; and Bill (David Koechner), a paint-store owner/serial bigamist. The only exception is a true gentleman (Nick Stahl). As their fortunes deteriorate, George eventually takes off to stay with Ann’s jealous sister Hope (Robin Weigart) and returns to New York’s Upper West Side far more self-reliant – with remarkable tales to tell.
Evoking the sexist ambiance of TV’s “Mad Men,” Renee Zellweger slyly charms as a naive ‘50s unlucky-in-love belle who’s always been ‘kept’ by a man and eventually gains some perspective. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “My One and Only” is an amusingly bittersweet, screwball 7. You don’t learn the secret behind George Hamilton’s perpetual cinnamon brown tan but this goes a long way toward explaining his debonair demeanor.