Million to One
May 9, 2023
Rob Gordon, Briana Cortesiano, Michael J. Patterson, Ashley Rios, Donnie Brown Jr.
‘Million To One’ is a film out of a different era. The kind of unbelievable romantic comedy that would have sold out cinemas in the late 90s, early 00s but nowadays is confined to the pits of Netflix or Amazon Prime. That’s a compliment as much as it is a criticism, it’s a mess - undeniably - and completely preposterous and cheesy, but there’s a certain charm to it all that makes it just about watchable.
Our leading couple is Dre Shaw (Rob Gordon) and Tatiana (Briana Cortesiano), an inherent food critic and a chef. Dre is your stereotypical influencer, shouting over enthusiastically to the camera and talking to everyone he meets about followers, likes and content. Tatiana, whom he first meets at a bar is quiet and altogether more human, and though her boyfriend Mark (Donnie Brown Jr.) interrupts her and Dre’s meet-cute, there’s a definite spark between them in spite of Dre’s tacky pickup lines about million to one odds.
Of course, that’s where the film gets its title, perhaps a cheeky nod to how contrived half of this film feels. It really does become a ‘million-to-one’ situation when Dre receives a last minute call to attend his brother’s wedding that weekend, where Tatiana is the private chef. His brother, Isaac (Michael J. Patterson) is getting married to Monica (Ashley Rios), and their relationship fairly smoothly interweaves with the burgeoning flames between Dre and Tatiana.
The screenplay by Harold Jackson is atrocious, derivative, contrived, and yet coasts along just enough to allow the actors, who all have a fun chemistry, to carry the film through with a certain charm. Jackson, who directs the film with a little more verve than he has written it, is unable to elevate the film away from melodrama, instead leaning into it, with the lacklustre dialogue particularly evident in the films early exchanges and the contradictory nature of a few lines.
Though the film feels trim at 75 minutes, Jackson still manages to fit a filler scene, adding literally nothing to the story whatsoever, into the mix early on. This means that the film starts off rough, extremely rough, but persistence pays off and as the film grows in heart and character it becomes a lot more funny and a lot more charming. This is helped by the performances of all the actors, who exhibit a worn-in chemistry with one another that helps gloss over any awkward interactions. Rob Gordon grows into his role as Dre, initially thoroughly unlikeable but becoming the kind of loveable bag of energy that we see Kevin Hart play so often. It’s a good leading man performance, hence the comparison to Hart, yet it is Ashley Rios as Monica, in her supporting role, that steals any scene she’s in, embracing the melodramatic screenplay and playing off it with a self-aware energy and charisma.
Stupid, but charming, ‘Million To One’ is ultimately a pleasant reminder of a bygone era of moviemaking, where melodrama and ridiculousness predominated, sometimes at the expense of actual quality. ‘Million To One’ isn’t a particularly good film, but it does more than enough to entertain, and maybe capture a few hearts along the way.