One Trick Pony

( 2 )

Overview

The struggle of a has-been singer to work his way back up the charts is the focus of this drama by Robert M. Young with screenplay and music by Paul Simon. Simon plays Jonah, a once-popular singer who now opens for punk rock bands. In the ten years since he had a hit song, Jonah's wife has divorced him, but he still sees his young son as often as he can. With his record company on his back to come up with something that sells, Jonah begins to compromise his own talent when he listens to the advice of a trendy ...
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Overview

The struggle of a has-been singer to work his way back up the charts is the focus of this drama by Robert M. Young with screenplay and music by Paul Simon. Simon plays Jonah, a once-popular singer who now opens for punk rock bands. In the ten years since he had a hit song, Jonah's wife has divorced him, but he still sees his young son as often as he can. With his record company on his back to come up with something that sells, Jonah begins to compromise his own talent when he listens to the advice of a trendy producer. Whether or not he can straighten out his personal life and steer his own ship may depend on his ability to trust his own judgment and adjust to the changing times.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
If first-time screenwriter Paul Simon hasn't insisted upon casting first-time leading man Paul Simon in the film One Trick Pony, the results would have probably been a bit more impressive, but as it is the movie is an under-appreciated look at the music industry and one man's struggle to keep his life together, both as a husband and an artist. Simon isn't exactly bad as Jonah, a one-hit wonder whose current music bears previous little resemblance to "Soft Parachutes," a folk-rock antiwar number that charted in the late '60s, but Simon simply lacks the charisma or emotional range to carry the film on his shoulders, which up to a point is what the script (and Robert M. Young's direction) demands of him; he's fine in low-key moments, or when he interacts with his band (played by fellow real-life musicians Steve Gadd, Eric Gale, Tony Levin, and Richard Tee), but when the narrative demands a real performance from Simon, it's clear he doesn't have what it takes. His script, however, is an often witty and incisive look at the casually sleazy world of the music business, not to mention a plausible scenario at how Simon's career might have gone if he'd never been able to follow up "The Sound of Silence." And the film's supporting cast often picks up the slack for Simon, including Rip Torn as a phony-hipster record company executive, Allen Goorwitz as an egocentric radio programmer, and Lou Reed as an especially slimy record producer (and for better or worse, both Simon and Reed have been in the business long enough to understand the character all too well). The always charming Blair Brown gives her all as Jonah's wife Marion, but sadly her leading man isn't at the same level she is in bringing their crumbling relationship to life, though she gets high marks for effort. And Robert M. Young obviously understands that this is a music film where the characters really are more important than the music, and ultimately it's the people who make this film interesting, even if the material deserved a more seasoned actor in the lead.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/23/2009
  • UPC: 883316126226
  • Original Release: 1980
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Time: 1:39:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,876

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Simon Jonah
Blair Brown Marion
Rip Torn Walter Fox
Joan Hackett Lonnie Fox
Mare Winningham Modeena Dandridge
Michael Pearlman Matty Levin
Lou Reed Steve Kunelian
Steve Gadd Danny Duggin
Eric Gale Lee-Andrew Parker
Tony Levin John DiBatista
Richard Tee Clarence Franklin
Harry Shearer Bernie Wepner
Sam & Dave
Tiny Tim
Patti Austin Back-up Singer
The B-52's
Jordan Cael Lee Perry
Lisa Carlson Groupie
Susan Forristal Cal's Girl Friend
Allen Garfield Cal van Damp
Merv Griffin Acappella Singer
Carol Levy Receptionist
The Lovin' Spoonful
Kate Pierson Member of the B-52's
David Sanborn Saxophone Soloist
Glenn Scarpelli Acappella Singer
John Sebastian Member of the Lovin' Spoonful
Joe Smith Voice Only
Daniel Stern Hare Krishna
Sameen Tarighati Groupie
Technical Credits
Robert M. Young Director
Ed Beyer Editor
Dick Bush Cinematographer
Michael Hausman Co-producer
Larry Jost Sound/Sound Designer
Woods Mackintosh Production Designer
Barry Malkin Editor
Paul Martino Associate Producer
David Mitchell Production Designer
Chris Newman Sound/Sound Designer
David Ray Editor
Hilary M. Rosenfeld Costumes/Costume Designer
Justin Scoppa Set Decoration/Design
Paul Simon Score Composer, Screenwriter
Michael Tannen Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2003

    One-Trick Pony a Toroughbred

    Paul Simon scores big with this look at the underside of fame and the price it expects from those it shines upon. Simon is characteristically sarcastic and self-deprecating in his portrayal of Jonah Levin, 60s folk icon, who's called upon by his record company to re-create the magic of his earlier incarnation. A solid supporting cast makes for memorable viewing. Though the film's mood may be viewed viewed possibly as a ''downer,'' it's invariably saved by its cast. Rip Torn, Blair Brown, Lou Reed and Mare Winnigham bring a colour to this otherwise moody work. Watch as well, for the only on-screen regrouping of 60s icons, the Lovin' Spoonful. Anyone even moderately interested in rock music and Paul Simon will thoroughly enjoy ONE TRICK PONY.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2001

    The Pony Had More Than One Trick

    This movie takes a look at the down side of recording--Top 40 at all costs! The Jonah Levin Band's own label ruined a knock-your-socks-off rock number that could have re-established them. Simon's portrayal of Jonah was believable, and his on-stage performances as Jonah were amazing.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews