Combustible Celluloid Review - One Day as a Lion (2023), Scott Caan, John Swab, Scott Caan, Marianne Rendón, J.K. Simmons, Frank Grillo, Virginia Madsen, George Carroll, Taryn Manning, Billy Blair
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With: Scott Caan, Marianne Rendón, J.K. Simmons, Frank Grillo, Virginia Madsen, George Carroll, Taryn Manning, Billy Blair
Written by: Scott Caan
Directed by: John Swab
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, some violence and sexual references
Running Time: 87
Date: 04/07/2023

One Day as a Lion (2023)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Nothing special, but this laconic, low-budget crime movie has enough scruffy moments of humor as well as a terrific cast of kooky characters to make it worth a watch if it happens to be on.

Jackie Powers (Scott Caan) is an ex-boxer in need of money. He is tasked to kill an ornery old cowboy, Walter Boggs (J.K. Simmons), who hasn't paid his debts to crime lord Pauly Russo (Frank Grillo). Jackie follows Boggs into a cafe and botches the job badly, accidentally killing the cook, letting Boggs go, and then deciding to kidnap server Lola Brisky (Marianne Rendón).

He confesses to Lola that he's not really a criminal; he merely needs money to hire a lawyer to get his son Billy (Dash Melrose) out of prison. Lola proposes a plan. If they can pose as a couple and convince Lola's eccentric, wealthy mother (Virginia Madsen) that they plan to marry, they may be able to procure enough money for Jackie's lawyer, and for Lola to follow her dream and get to Costa Rica. But things don't quite go as planned.

Written by and starring Scott Caan, the actor now carries the singular swagger of his late father, James Caan, as well as a charmingly, slightly clueless ne'er-do-well quality, all of which goes a long way in making One Day as a Lion likable.

The twisty plot is frankly less engaging than the spiffy turns by J.K. Simmons as the unflappable cowpoke who rides a horse to the local diner, Virginia Madsen as the perpetually peeved mother with curlers in her hair, as well as Frank Grillo, Taryn Manning, George Carroll, and especially Marianne Rendón as the grumpy Lola, who is smarter than just about everyone else here, and barely able to hide her disgust.

Director John Swab, who is slowly establishing himself as a fairly reliable "B" movie maker, holds things together in a way that suggest confidence, even if things are not exactly exploding with energy. One Day as a Lion doesn't roar, but it pleasantly purrs.

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