Only the Lonely (June 4/05)
Only the Lonely features John Candy in one of the few dramatic roles of his career, which is certainly a shame given how good he is here. It comes as no surprise that the actor does a nice job with the film's light-hearted moments, but Candy handles the more serious aspects of Chris Columbus' screenplay with apparent ease - turning his character into an utterly believable and sympathetic person.
Candy stars as Danny Muldoon, a 38-year-old Chicago cop who still lives with his mother - an irate, stubborn old woman named Rose (played by Maureen O'Hara). Danny's life essentially revolves around his job and his mom, so when he meets shy make-up artist Theresa (Ally Sheedy), Rose finds her place as the only woman in Danny's life threatened. As a result, Danny and Theresa's burgeoning love affair must overcome the oppressive nature of Danny's relationship with his mother.
Throughout his career, Columbus has made plenty of unabashedly corny films (Stepmom remains the most obvious and least successful example of this), but Only the Lonely remains one of his most effective. While there are certain elements within the film that seriously push the boundaries of acceptable sentimentality (ie there are two fake break-ups!), there's no denying that Columbus does a fantastic job of establishing both Danny and Theresa as lonely, damaged people. Consequently, it's their relationship that's the most intriguing and engaging aspect of the film; the stuff involving Rose and her various biases is, comparatively speaking, far less interesting.
As a romance, Only the Lonely undoubtedly succeeds. Anchored by Candy and Sheedy's captivating performances, the film is heartwarming and poignant; as a result, it's hard not to wish Columbus would've just focused on that and dumped everything else.