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At the Movies: “Only the Lonely″

May 22, 1991

Undated (AP) _ Filmmakers John Hughes and Chris Columbus share two things: a love of Chicago and talent for quirky comedies about families. Having created one of the biggest moneymakers ever, they now bring forth a ″Home Alone″ for grownups. It’s called ″Only the Lonely,″ after the melancholy Roy Orbison song.

There’s nothing glum about the movie. The central figure is John Candy, a Chicago cop (though his duties are not clear) who is 38 and still living with his mother, Maureen O’Hara. She is a battleship of a woman who fires broadsides at every ethnic group but her own - the Irish.

Candy’s life has fallen into the dreary routine of placating his mother and taking her to bingo every Wednesday night and the Irish saloon. Then he meets Ally Sheedy, a makeup artist for the stiffs at her father’s mortuary. Both are shy, but they fall in love.

O’Hara is predictably furious. She faces the loss of her dutiful son. Worse yet, the girl is part Italian and part Polish.

O’Hara herself is pursued by her next-door neighbor, Anthony Quinn, cast once more as a Greek. She rejects him in the most abusive terms, but he keeps returning for more.

Chris Columbus, who wrote and directed as he did for ″Home Alone,″ enhances the comedic bits with commentary on the human condition: the emergence of male-female love; the silver cord between mother and son; the plight of aging single men whose only ties are their pub companions.

The comedy can be broad, as when Sheedy stays overnight with Candy, only to have his mother return early from a visit to her suburban son (Kevin Dunn). There are subtle bits as well, such as Sheedy’s making up her dead clients to look like movie stars, whom she studies on videocassettes.

The ageless O’Hara is terrific as the bigoted mother; she makes Rose Muldoon a fearsome figure, until the end, of course. John Candy proves as adept with the serious stuff as he is with comedy. Sheedy is among the best of the young actresses. Quinn has little to do, but his presence is welcome.

Yes, that’s Macaulay Culkin in a brief role as Candy’s clumsy nephew.

John Hughes co-produced ″Only the Lonely″ with Hunt Lowry. The 20th Century Fox release is rated PG-13, mostly for language. Running time: 102 minutes.

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Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G - General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG - Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 - Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 - No one under 17 admitted.