By Admin | January 22, 2006

“Duets” had the whole karaoke phenomenon wrong, using only characters with crappy lives to make them enlightened through karaoke. Paul Giamatti was the harried businessman with a family ignorant of his presence (including wife Mariel Hemingway), who found a voice through song and a friend with career criminal Reggie (Andre Braugher). How sweet. Then there was Huey Lewis as karaoke hustler Ricky Dean facing the daughter he never knew (Gwyneth Paltrow). They make a real connection on the stage together towards the end of the film. I’m close to melting. Comedian John Pinette was the only singer who had a modicum of personality as he and his loud Hawaiian shirt made Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” new and fiercely entertaining. That and Maria Bello’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” were the only reasons I bought the soundtrack.

Now there’s Sara Sparrow (Joy Gohring), who could be considered a close cousin of Pinette’s performance, in “One Sung Hero” which exudes such joy and love for karaoke, such inspiration in Sara convincing a bartender (the Kyle Gass of Tenacious D) to sing Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” with her. Her mother (Mary Pat Gleason), showing pictures of Sara in other bars and as a little girl to a cameraman and a cynical reporter (Nicole Sullivan), is happy with her daughter’s pursuits. She makes just a tiny bit of the world happy each time she goes into a bar, whether it is a standalone bar and grill, or a bar in a bowling alley. In trying out the karaoke machine at the first bar, Sara says to the patrons about karaoke that “it can make a swan out of an ugly duckling.” That sounds hokey, but Gohring, director Samantha Kurtzman-Counter (cleverly utilizing a hand-held camera to introduce us to Sara’s passionate personality) and writer Lara Spotts aren’t in the business of hokiness. Sara does speak in clichés, to the reporter and to the heckler who causes Karen (Donna Pescow) at the bowling alley bar to hurry off the stage, but it’s the songs that matter, and in our time today, with manufactured music serving as radio airtime, “One Sung Hero” reminds us that there is still passion not only in music, but in the people who make it. Plus, it’s outstanding entertainment, the best reason to see it. I’m hopeful that maybe even a few people will live that cliché in critical writing that says a movie will, “make people stand on their seats and cheer.” Maybe.

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