Those of you who have read my reviews before know that, to put it simply, I am not a romantic-comedy kind of girl. Rather I am helplessly drawn to films which my ex-husband and others have characterized as “relentless agony.” I wouldn’t go quite that far…but tormented psyches and ethical conflicts are my lifeblood. I’m always up for a few big guns as well and I don’t just mean those of the Ron Burgundy variety. That preamble aside, I was surprised and delighted by ONE SMALL HITCH. Just goes to show you – never give up hope. While it is not without a certain amount of predictability, it is genuinely funny and quirky, but at the same time totally accessible to any and all men and women who have been in a relationship. Both of the lead characters, Josh and Molly, are us. We can see parts of ourselves in both of them and that is a hard feat to accomplish.
ONE SMALL HITCH establishes a brief history for each of its leads efficiently and amusingly. Molly, played by Aubrey Dollar, is the pretty girl who is humble and slightly goofy. You want her as your BFF, and you definitely get the sense she’s been many a bridesmaid and never a bride. Josh (Shane McRae) is adorable, legitimately hot and a player – but you don’t hate him. He is too endearing to be a hateful slime-ball. Rather, he is just…experienced. Molly and Josh go way back as childhood friends and they are both traveling to Molly’s mother’s wedding back home in Chicago. The festivities are conveniently being held at Josh’s parents’ home, and both of them conveniently terminate their current squeezes, metaphorically speaking (although bloodshed could have been cool here), right before leaving for the wedding. Due to unexpected life altering events revealed during a pre-flight phone conversation, Josh informs his mother that he and Molly are in fact…engaged, which they most certainly are not. Josh’s lie springs from a place of love and massive, massive Jewish guilt.
All families engage in their own brand of guilt to a greater or lesser degree. But – and I can get away with saying this because I had a Jewish grandmother – Jews have elevated familial guilt to an art form. It’s a bit like a grenade; you don’t even see it coming until your head has been blown clean off. As the story unfolds between Josh and Molly there is a range of convincingly real and ambivalent emotion demonstrated by Dollar. We can see the conflict in her, the poignant struggle as she copes with the fake happiness she wishes were real. It feels horrible. And so do we. The dialogue is rational yet clever, and the screenplay is well written by Dode B. Levenson. Lines such as, “my parents are like Jewish parakeets,” and, “...like Orcs from Jewish Middle Earth,” seriously cracked me up. Levenson is able to hold present the discomfort and enormously destructive potential of the lie., while simultaneously keeping the movie light and genuinely funny. On top of it all McRae and Dollar have chemistry. It may not necessarily be romantic but you sense a honest connection between them on some level and that is something you just can’t manufacture.
The film’s supporting cast are integral to the success of the story. Molly’s sister-in-law, played by Rebecca Spence, is the beacon of rational truth in the lot and balances girl-fun and new motherhood perfectly. Josh’s parents, Janet Ulrich Brooks and Daniel J. Travanti (the iconic Capt. Frank Furillo of HILL STREET BLUES) play the Jewish parakeets with great realism and potency but they never go over the edge to become overblown clichés. ONE SMALL HITCH is director John Burgess’ first feature-length film. He shows a nuanced hand, good pacing, and incorporates unpredictable elements wisely and judiciously. This first film shows great promise for his next effort. There are no epiphanies in ONE SMALL HITCH, but its fundamental truths is a good one. Lying is bad, even when you do it from a place of love. But…if you’re lucky, and honest with yourself, acting ‘as if’ may just show you something wonderful you couldn’t see before.(3 / 5)
Director: John Burgess
Cast: Aubrey Dollar, Shane McRae, Rebecca Spence, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Daniel J. Travanti, Robert Belushi
Running Time: 105 minutes
Movie Review One Small Hitch