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Once Around
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Reviews & Ratings for
Once Around More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Genuine character study, completely wonderful, and a joy to watch.

Author: jessfink ( from NYC
26 July 2001

This is one of Lasse Hallestrom's best films. It is a richly textured, completely unique character study of a youngish woman named Renata, played superbly by Holly Hunter in what is arguably her best performance. Renata comes from a close Italian family outside of Boston, and has drifted from job to job without much confidence or direction. Her family is very supportive of her, but rather than drawing strength form their support, Renata seems to dwell safely in it, choosing to let them be her safety net.

Renata goes on a weekend junket where she is recruited to take a position selling timeshares in the Caribbean. While she is there she meets Sam, the dynamic and aggressive top salesman, who impresses her greatly when she hears him speak. A flirtation develops, and she ends up traveling back to Boston with him.

The brash, confident Sam clashes inadvertently with her family's more traditional and reserved style, and while it is evident Sam is crazy about Renata, the family has reservations about him. A compelling and utterly captivating story ensues, which unlike most small films, takes major risks, and allows every character to be completely human.

The story deals with the power of acceptance, of love, of the magic and complete idiocynracy of personal connection, and of what it means to be alive and human. Sam is difficult--he is over the top, and loud, and exhausting. Yet the film is equally balanced in showing his many kindnesses to Renata and her entire family; his generosity, his love for her, and his pride that she loves him. Their love is peculiar and inexplicable, and yet they complete one another in that indefinable way that epitomizes the mystery of love.

it's not a sappy love story. The movie shows people warts and all, and loves them anyway. All the characters are respected. By the end, I am usually in tears. Renata tells her parents, "This is MY adventure!" and when you watch this, I think you will agree.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

This is a movie I will never tire of watching

Author: fairyeyes16 from Spokane, Washington
20 October 2003

Once Around is to me a love story - romantic love, familial love, love of life. I've seen this movie probably 10 times and I watched it again yesterday with the love of my life. He had never seen it before but agreed with me that it is a lovely film. Sam Sharp's behavior can be painful at times to watch, but he is so full of childlike belief in the goodness of everyone else that you can't help but feel real affection for him and no more so than when he kisses Joe Bella on the cheek in the most tender and loving way even after the cruel way he was treated. Gena Rowlands,Danny Aiello, Richard Dreyfus and Holly Hunter are all so believable in their roles. When Marilyn Bella says to Sam Sharp "I will not allow you to make my husband's family uncomfortable"(or words to that effect) she is like a mother lion defending her cubs. I love this movie and now I start to tear up even when something good is happening because I know what's coming next. I hope no one is discouraged from renting this movie because of the negative comments posted here. It's only $1.00 and you can always turn it off, but maybe you will see something heartwarming and that is pretty hard to find these days.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

An utterly superb film

Author: Oskado from Kingman, Arizona
16 February 2004

An extremely well-crafted script developing a wide range of individual psychologies within an extended family, together with good casting and acting make this an exceptional film. None of the characters is, to my taste, naturally attractive or charismatic, but as personalities striving to maintain stability in their lives, they are fascinating and fuel a continual dramatic tension.

Dreyfuss plays the most enigmatic character, the one "tearing apart" the family, and so has the central role, but his past remains a mystery. When we first encounter him he is alone, a man in his sixties perhaps, staring out over the sea, with behind him a divorce only recently finalized. He delivers a materialistic and self-gratifying speech, with horrifically inappropriate humor, to a flock of aspiring condominium salespeople and proceeds to "fall in love" and quickly marry the immature "baby" member of the film's subject family. But behind his frequently obnoxious salesman's rhetoric and showy possessions, just who is he, and what are his motives? Why did his prior marriage fail? What scars does he bear from the 40s, when he was born in Lithuania and somehow escaped with at least his mother for the States? While looking out over the sea was he contemplating suicide? Was suicide in his mind when he met the simpleton girl on a rooftop with no guard rail and opted to grab on to her for help? His background is eclipsed behind the family's bourgeois Italian-American heritage, as though only Italian ethos can matter, or can be stylishly accepted - so he's given little opportunity to explain. Otherwise, the emptiness and tactlessness of his impromptu speeches seem to underscore an ingrained sense of the absurd and perhaps of despair.

Dreyfuss' character has large gaps, gaping scars - like the ragged edges of a piece of a puzzle, a piece that fits perfectly into the poorly developed, ragged edges of the family's youngest and otherwise socially inept and professionally helpless daughter. Together they form a whole - not necessarily people we'd like to know or befriend, but - but they drive the film to a dramatic climax.

As said, this film develops the characters of a extended family - not just the two above. This is a film well worth seeing and thinking about - and it seemed to me, just off and on (and in some close-ups) a little Swedish in its sensitivity.

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17 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Once is never enough

Author: Merely from Brocktroit, Massatucky
5 March 2000

Being one of my favorite movies, I have seen it many times. It is a nice little movie that tells a nice little story. After glancing at the unbelievable negative comments here, it is clear that these few (3) users simply do not understand that the Richard Dreyfuss character is supposed to be arrogant! While they find this trait unappealing, it is CENTRAL to the film! My goodness! Without him being the way he is, the other central character played by Holly Hunter, would not be able to change and grow and ultimately be able to separate herself from her parents. This is a wonderful film where all the actors are completely believable. Danny Aiello is also remarkable and the interplay between he and Gena Rowlands is classic.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Stay till the end.

Author: davede
24 September 2000

I started watching this movie on some movie channel and I kept watching because I knew I had seen it, but I completely forgot about it, and was SHOCKED to find out it was directed by Lasse Hallstrom. I couldn't remember a darn thing about it. (and us movie geeks hate that) Every actor in this movie are all "A" list. And that alone should keep you watching it. It has some tough parts to get through. But I advise you to stick to the end. I also agree that you have to accept (like Her family) Dreyfus's character for who he is, allow it to be part of the plot. If you can make it through the hard parts, you will be rewarded at the end. And remember this was made before Hollywood killed Frank Sinatra by putting a song of his in every darn movie. This is not a GREAT movie, but a darn good one, with a touching ending.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A funny and serious movie about a man who meets his wife and tries to fit in with her family

Author: rossgolden
30 May 2004

In my opinion 'Once Around' is a movie that was clearly never marketed correctly. It is a well written and has wonderfully created characters each with there own strengths and weaknesses. I admit that only reason I thought to watch it at first is that I find Holly Hunter totally enchanting. Upon watching a few minutes I was sucked in to find out what happens next. Granted most would consider it a 'chick flick', but I generally do not like 'chick flicks'. The trials and tribulations that each member of the family go through upon meeting 'Sam'(Richard Dreyfuss) and the things said amongst the characters are sad, funny and a good representation of life within families. It makes you think, laugh and even cry (yes I admit to it). Anybody who has ever tried to fit in with their spouse's family will definitely find this movie truly entertaining and possibly closer to the truth than parody. Richard Dreyfuss plays the part of a salesman really well. Danny Aiello plays the father of Holly Hunter and really makes the movie in my opinion. The supporting cast does a really good job of playing a family that has inner turmoil like most families tend to have. I think most people who watch this movie will be able to relate to this unsung gem!

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

An Interesting Coming of Age Story

Author: caspian1978 from Boston, MA
28 March 2005

Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter star in an offbeat comedy where the characters are the punchlines. Holly Hunter gives another excellent performance with a dead on Boston accent. This is her character's story more than anyone else. Although Danny Aiello and Gena Rowlands add to the movie, it is Hunter's story. Laura San Giacomo is a surprise as well. She is hardly in the movie, but she is as strong as Gena Rowlands...which I may add is a giant task. If you love Dreyfuss, you will love his over the top performance as an old man who wears his heart on his sleeve. Aiello is just as good if not better. Both characters are seen as father figures. By the end of the movie, the two are more like brothers. A touching story that keeps the character development moving until the end of the movie. Not many comedies are like this one.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"A real find, does not disappoint"

Author: Seth Quinn from San Francisco
9 March 2004

With a strong cast of some of Hollywood's best veteran actors and a highly respected director of praised dramas, "Once Around" got what it needs to lift it out of a often used formula. It is wonderful to see such an eclectic cast of characters together making something extraordinary out of the ordinary. Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfus deserve each other as a highly charged couple. Dreyfus's Sam is a piece of work - brash, manipulative and yet engaging. Hunter is full of nervous energy. Gena Rowland does not disappoint in displaying the power in her character in the scene where she confronts Dreyfus in protection of her husband at a reception. The one character that stood out the most, in my mind,is Danny Aiello's family patriarch. His is a laconic, slightly wounded man, trying to remain dignified while holding the family together. He was overshadowed by the showy Dreyfus. You feel his pains. But when Dreyfus got sick near the end, he would carry him into the house when Dreyfus and Hunter come to visit. What could improve the ending is have daughter (Hunter) and father (Aiello) walk hand-in-hand in the snow, to symbolize her journey home and finds love and support where she always knew were there. 3 of 4 stars.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Family values beyond all

Author: SamRag from New Zealand
12 August 2002

By coincidence I saw Once Around few years ago. The next day I went to the shop and bought myself a copy. Since then I've watched this film whenever I feel my own life is in a mess. I don't know why, but every time I watch Once Around I'm assured in the knowledge that it is un-important how unlike or disagreeing family members are, no argument can tear them apart. (This might of course not always be the case – but a nice thought anyway). Once Around is about the Bella Family. The head of the family Joe Bella, wonderfully played by Danny Aiello, is about to retire. His two daughters are at the age of leaving home and/or getting married. Something his son has already done. After Jan Bella (Laura San Giacoma) is married, her sister, Renata (Holly Hunter), asks her boyfriend to marry her. To her surprise and irritation he is not willing, nor ever planning on, getting married to her. Renata is forced to re-evaluate her life, and takes up a job selling apartments. There she meets larger-then-life character Sam Sharpe (Richard Dreyfuss), and falls in love with him. Sam is one of these guys that lives for the minute, and by his own rules and values. Once he becomes part of the Bella family, the usually close-knitted family starts to experience difficulties, and arguments become a daily occurrence.

Holly Hunger and Richard Dreyfuss have brought their talents together before with good result (Always), and are as successful here in creating chemistry between the two characters. Even though this film is without a doubt very sentimental and terrible American, it manages to draw up a rather believable picture while staying entertaining. I've watched this film with many of friends, and not everyone has shared my view regarding this being such a good film. But this film is worth seeing, and I can just hope it will affect you in the same pleasant manner as it does in my case. 9/10

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A Great Underrated Film

Author: wleongittens-1 from United States
26 December 2008

I stumbled across this film late one night when there was nothing on HBO, Showtime or the countless other channels in our now 500-channel universe. "Once Around" has a great cast, an excellent story line and a song track that I just love.

Any film that has Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter as leads and Gena Rowlands as a supporting actress should be a must see film and I don't know how this one got passed me when it was first released. It seems Richard Dryfuss's "Where Bob?" got all the attention in 1991 and this film seems to have come in under the radar.

"Once Around" displays real emotions, conflicts and family dynamics in a way that makes you laugh and makes you cry. Danny Aiello gives a great performance without going over the top and a young, Laura San Giacoma, before her "Just Shoot Me" days gives a glimpse of the star she should have become.

Congratulations to all who were involved in the endeavor.

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