One True Thing

Bomb Rating: 

William Hurt has got the aloof asshole thing down like a dog licking its butt. Every time Hurt is on screen it's all you can do to not stand up and scream, "Bill, try to complete a sentence without looking plaintively off into space, okay!?"

Hurt is patriarch of family Gulden and couldn't be more different from his wife, Kate (Meryl Streep), who's like Martha Stewart after a snort of blow and an espresso enema. Kate is one of those housewives who can construct Christmas tree ornaments with her clitoris will stirring together the ingredients for the perfect bundt cake with one hand and changing the twins' diapers with the other. Unfortunately, her daughter, Ellen (Renee Zellweger), doesn't think much of her. Ellen admires Dad because Dad is almost a great writer and head of a college English Department and says things like "When I was your age, I'd work a whole day on one sentence."

Given this family relationship, it's not hard to figure out what's going to happen when Meryl comes down with a bad case of cancer: Ellen is going to figure out that Mom is a pretty swell woman and that Dad is a co-dependent scumbag. Aside for making a case for assisted suicide, the film doesn't accomplish much more.

Unfortunately, director Carl Franklin wants the audience to empathize -- to whatever small degree -- with good, old Dad, even though he cheats on Kate and nearly ruins Ellen's career because he's too self-centered to take care of his dying wife. By the time he confesses that Kate is his "one true thing," even the calmest of audience members are foaming at the mouth hoping that Bill will slip and impale himself on some miscellaneous grave paraphernalia -- or, better yet, his own steely ego.

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