I'm the One That I Want (2000)

Directed by Lionel Coleman
Written by Margaret Cho
Starring Margaret Cho

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

Margaret Cho is back in her hometown, and from the tale that she spins, it sounds like it was one heck a trip to get back there. It also sounds like it's amazing that she even survived the journey. Between trying to commit suicide unintentionally through dieting to trying to commit suicide deliberately through alcohol--it is pretty impressive that she's still taking in oxygen. On stage in a solo show, she relates her story in between imitating her mother's answering machine messages.

I think my problem with this film is that I was expecting a stand-up routine in a concert film form. From reading the blurb for the movie, that's what you would think you were going to get. And for the first thirty-five minutes, you get that-- and it's quite amusing. Laugh out loud funny, in fact, as Cho talks about why she loves homosexual men and is heterophobic. This is some great material, the kind of stuff that I knew Cho best for from the brief bits I've seen on Comedy Central and the like.

However--at thirty-five minutes in, she begins to tell her story: her failed sitcom, her failed kidneys, her failed relationships--and her routine ceases to be funny. It's hard to take such serious subject matter and make it amusing, but other comedians have done that: Whoopi Goldberg springs to mind, as does Lily Tomlin. Billy Crystal as well. But Cho's story never gets there. In fact, it almost seems like she didn't try very hard. I'm sure her hometown audience appreciates the self-help seminar and therapy session that the film deteriorates into--and never recovers from--but for me at least, it got extremely old. It doesn't help matters that she has a tendency to repeat lines, usually at the top of her lungs.

I'm very glad that Cho has come through and is now able to deal with life and living as herself. I just wish I hadn't had to listen to it for an hour. Hardcore fans of Cho will enjoy, the rest of us should stick with the brief bits on cable.

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