A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that One Chance is an underdog comedy/biopic of Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts (James Corden), who went from being a cell phone salesman to performing at Royal Albert Hall. The Welsh opera singer's story is likely relatively unknown outside the U.K., so appeal among American tweens and teens may not be high. But the movie has laughs, romance (including kissing and a fairly demure wedding night scene), and dramatic tension, even if you know it's going to end with a victory. The main character is bullied both as a child as an adult; he's beaten up and threatened with fists and a chain. He also lands in the hospital a few times but always recovers. The language occasionally includes British slang/curses like "tosser," "sod off," and more, and there's some drinking in pubs. In the end, the movie encourages audiences to follow their dreams, no matter how unlikely they seem.
What's the story?
Paul Potts (James Corden) grew up in South Wales knowing he was different from the other boys. Instead of sports like rugby or soccer, Paul's real passion was always singing -- particularly operatic pieces that made him popular with his school's choirmaster but not so much with the local bullies, who chased and tormented him. As a young adult, Paul works at a local Carphone Warehouse and idolizes opera legend Luciano Pavarotti so much that he saves up to take an exclusive opera workshop that the tenor helps run in Venice. But when Paul's moment comes to sing before the master, he chokes and hears the unthinkable from his idol: He doesn't have what it takes. Depressed and unsure what to do, Paul is nonetheless encouraged by his supportive girlfriend (and then wife) Julz (Alexandra Roach) to keep singing. After overcoming a number of obstacles, Paul finally has a chance to show the world he does have "it" by competing in and winning Britain's Got Talent.
Is it any good?
It's hard to criticize such an earnest story, which follows a man who seems like the kindest, least egocentric winner of any talent competition. Corden, whose singing voice was dubbed by the real-life Potts, does a fine job with the role, which requires him to make a sweet, nerdy, opera singer deserving of a feature-length film. So what is it that makes Paul stand out among all those other fame-hungry contestants? Well, he's actually quite talented, and he's not obsessed with the spotlight so much as expressing himself artistically in the only way he knows how -- through song.
Potts' on-screen support is played by his hilariously lazy store manager Braddon (comedic actor Mackenzie Crook, best known for The Office and Pirates of the Caribbean); his patient, ever-encouraging love, Julz; his loving mother (Julie Walters, once again playing a fierce mama bear); and his father (Colm Meaney), who doesn't understand why Paul can't be content with a mine or factory job like him and his mates. The secondary characters add much-needed spice to the otherwise vanilla story. Even though it's occasionally bland and predictable, there's an adorably winning quality to Corden's portrayal of Potts, so by the time he's on Britain's Got Talent, we're all cheering for him to belt out his aria and prove Pavarotti wrong.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of televised talent shows and their winners. Why is it compelling to see how one of these winners got his start?
How is bullying portrayed in the movie? In what ways does the bullying affect Paul as he grows up? Does he overcome the hurt easily? What are the long-term consequences of bullying?
How do biographical films about lesser-known people compare to those about legendary historical figures? Do you think this story is more relatable, since it's more contemporary?
- In theaters: October 10, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2014
- Cast: James Corden, Julie Walters, Colm Meaney
- Director: David Frankel
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language and sexual material
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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