Review – One Chance

Poster for 2013 comedy biopic One Chance

Genre: Biopic/Comedy
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 25th October 2013
Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Justin Zackham
Starring: James Corden, Alexandra Roach, Colm Meaney, Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook 
Synopsis: The true, rags to riches story of Paul Potts – a welsh phone salesman who became an international singing star after winning Britain’s Got Talent.



It’s fairly safe to say that there weren’t many people clamouring for a Paul Potts movie. In fact, since the Welsh opera star won Britain’s Got Talent in 2007, he has faded into obscurity. No-one needed One Chance and no-one expected it to work, but the end result is a genuinely funny Britcom with a truly warm heart.

Paul Potts (James Corden) is stuck in a rut, working under a slacker boss (Mackenzie Crook) at a Carphone Warehouse in Wales. He really wants to become an opera singer and is encouraged by his mother (Julie Walters), but his more traditional father (Colm Meaney) disapproves. When he meets the beautiful Julie-Ann (Alexandra Roach) and they fall in love, this pushes Paul to follow his dream to Venice, and eventually to primetime television.

On no level should One Chance be any good at all. On paper, it’s an immediate failure. Somehow though, Justin Zackham’s script elevates the film from a run of the mill biopic to a gently hilarious comedy film with some real emotional heft.

A lot of this is down to the performances. Alexandra Roach is blindingly brilliant as Potts’s put-upon partner and Colm Meaney is just the right side of menacing as the singer’s father. Phone shop boss Mackenzie Crook is the highlight though, stealing every scene in which he appears with inappropriate, filthy and downright bizarre asides about his somewhat unorthodox sex life.

The only weak acting link is in fact James Corden. He fails to inhabit the character of Potts at all and never lets the audience lose sight of the fact that he is an actor playing a character. The dubbed singing sequences are funny for all of the wrong reasons and there’s no reason he couldn’t have managed a Welsh accent.

Equally strange is the scene that covers the iconic Britain’s Got Talent audition that made Potts a star. Cutting awkwardly between staged reconstruction and archive footage, the sequence feels more like it has been produced by a fan than an enormous production team. It’s clumsy and amateurish in a way that draws the audience right outside of the film.

Fortunately, there’s enough warmth in One Chance to push it through despite its enormous flaws. It’s impossible not to be swept away a little by Potts’s trials and tribulations and by the time everything comes up rosy in the end, it feels like the end of a proper emotional journey.


Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

One Chance should have been a complete waste of time. This review was going to be a hatchet job, full of bile and vitriol after the awful trailer.

But, from absolutely nowhere, One Chance is a lot of fun and surprisingly charming. It has huge flaws and suffers from a miscast James Corden, but that doesn’t stop the emotional rollercoaster picking the audience up and taking them for a ride.


Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Review – One Chance

  • 05/11/2013 at 13:19

    Completely agree about Corden. I’d read previously that he’d spent no time at all with Potts and didn’t think he needed to learn anything about the man he was supposedly playing. Though it’s not a totally true story in the strictest sense, Corden’s disinterest showed in his performance.

    • 05/11/2013 at 20:46

      Exactly. He has a natural charm, so you like the guy, but you never lose sight of the fact that he’s an actor playing a role.


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