“One More Time,” a fleetingly hilarious, fun little film about family, starring Christopher Walken and Johnny Depp’s wife, Amber Heard, will most likely go under the multiplex radar and become a Duane Reade Red Box/Netflix perennial, although it’s better than most of what shows up in a Red Box.
Walken, that curious individual … his passing strange syntax, inflections, ticks, hidden talents (dancing), and fright hair were so ripe for mimicry (and yet you must have true acting talent to pull off a spot-on Walken impression) that he had a career second wind from the publicity windfall of Jay Mohr, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollack and Bradley Cooper’s Walken impressions.
And whereas certain actors (cough—William Shatner, John Malkovitch—cough) could never crawl back out of the tarpit of self-parody they fell into, Christopher Walken can, when the spirit moves him. He enjoys his weirdness, he owns it, he sends it up—he did a whole skit on SNL where all the cast members played his family members, united in Walken-ese.
But he’s a pro, and can back off his weirdness just enough, like in this little movie we’re discussing—it’s still rampant mind you—but you can definitely go, “Ha! That’s actually funny without wholly wallowing in Walken’s wackiness.”
He’s Paul Lombard; a Sinatra-era crooner fixin’ to make a comeback. Gonna open for the Flaming Lips, he is. Daughter Jude (Amber Heard), also a singer-songwriter and erstwhile punk-rocker (still sporting pink hair), tells him Flaming Lips fans are not Paul Lombard fans; it’s clearly an ironic hipster goof of a gig, and the joke’s on him.
She’s visiting dad (whom she refuses to call anything but Paul, to his tremendous irritation) at his Hamptons digs, because she’s facing eviction with no employment.
Jude blames all her troubles on Paul’s philandering ways, which are prodigious, and which sins-of-the-father she inherited—she being the addict and her little sister Corinne (Kelli Garner) the no-talent goody-goody. He thinks they’re both batty. Not his exact words.
They are, in fact, both spoiled, but then, so is he, hilariously complaining he doesn’t live in the classy Hamptons, and staying up late editing Wikipedia so it says he’s not “one of the original crooners” but, in fact, the “greatest crooner of all time.”
And while the Lombard fame and fortune may be higher than most who watch this movie, it all feels very real and lived-in, if not cozy. Very identifiable.
As mentioned, dad’s attempting to get his star to shine again, daughter needs to step up career-wise, he lectures, she resents it. She plays open mic nights, he leaves his Rolls Royce parked outside the local motel in plain sight, she calls him on his incorrigible trysting—they fall out.
She catches his Flaming Lips gig, calls him a dancing monkey whom the kids laugh at, and, in the movie’s realest moment, he says, “I know. You think I don’t know that? Who cares?” Like Joan Rivers, Paul’s an unapologetic, true creature of showbiz.
As is Christopher Walken himself. It took forever for the world to catch on to the fact that eccentric-is-too-mild-a-word-Walken is a classic Broadway singer-dancer.
Nuggets of Walken-speak
When his daughter flounces out of the room, feeling insulted, and he says, “Stay!” which sounds exactly like when Kevin Pollack mimicked the time he encountered Walken, standing by himself in a parking lot outside a Hollywood party, who said (to no one in particular) “Stranded!” As only Walken can.
And Yet It’s the Ensemble
The family scenes are comfortable and naturalistic like an old shoe; the cast (along with Hamish Linklater as Jude’s brother-in-law and Ann Magnuson as Paul’s fourth wife) achieves an uncommon level of realism, rarely seen in movie dinner-table chit-chat.
Oliver Platt as Paul’s agent gets endless mileage of Jude’s name: “‘Hey Jude.’ Ha! It never gets old.” And when Paul wants to sing a song and Jude objects, it’s, “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad.” And when she refuses to sing along, it’s, “Take a sad song, and make it better.” Paul approves. McCartney that is.
The actor homework of establishing history and specifics (for which Walken is known to have painstaking integrity) pays off, rendering the cross-talking, multiple conversations as little understated, actor-ly works of high craft. This family feels very family-ish. And they don’t even speak Walken-ese.
‘One More Time’
Director: Robert Edwards
Cast: Christopher Walken, Amber Heard, Kelli Garner, Hamish Linklater, Ann Magnuson, Oliver Platt
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Release Date: April 8
Rated 3 stars out of 5