Toronto Film Festival 2013

Film review: One Chance - James Corden provides belly laughs as Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts

3.00

 

Paul Potts embodies all that is good about TV talent shows. Not blessed with the looks of Brad Pitt, the opera singer from Port Talbot was rejected out of hand by music professionals before the public voted him the winner of  Britain's Got Talent in 2007. He is certainly not the type of guy to have a movie made about him. It’s not like he’s Pol Pot, as the joke – played twice in an otherwise hilarious introduction to the singer - goes.

After a brief, schmaltzy preface set in 1985 when the nine-year-old Potts ruptures his eardrum and is bullied at school for being fat and liking opera, the film starts in earnest with a voiceover in which Potts tells us that he always wanted to sing and that his life has been an endless cycle of music, drama and comedy. It’s now 2004 and Potts (James Corden) is still living at home. His dad hates him singing opera, he is still scared of the school bully and he has been texting a girl for a year, but has never plucked up the courage to actually meet her. An acerbic Mackenzie Crook, playing his best friend and boss at Carphone Warehouse, eventually arranges for Paul to meet the girl who describes herself as a Cameron Diaz doppelganger. When she turns out to be Julie Ann-Cooper (Alexandra Roach), a Cardiff check-out assistant, Potts is rather relieved. A great first date, featuring a torch, an accidental encounter with Paul’s mum and a pub quiz, follows.

The director David Frankel has a patchy track record - The Devil Wears Prada sits alongside The Big Year on his resume - but he must be commended for the superb way he weaves Britain’s Got Talent into his film. He tells the story with broad strokes and doesn’t mind inventing fictions when it helps to move the story along. The film works best when the action plays to Corden’s comedic strengths. He brings out some real belly laughs and his love story with Roach is heart-warming enough to provide plenty of goodwill from the audience when the action veers off course – in Italy.

When Potts goes to Venice, some serious stereotypes are trotted out - most notably a big fat mama and brothers willing to break your legs. A montage in which Potts sings with the beautiful Alessandra (Valeria Bilelo) runs like a Venetian tourist board commercial. When it ends badly and when Paul returns back to Port Talbot, there is another tonal shift. Asked to show his acting chops and play depressed, Corden doesn’t quite hit the mark. The film seems to want to ape the dramatic arc of an opera but it never quite succeeds in this ambition. Still, you don’t need to be a Paul Potts fan to be consumed and amused by this charming tale.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn