Once Around

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For the Autumn Defense album, see Once Around (album).
Once Around
Once around poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Produced by Amy Robinson
Griffin Dunne
Written by Malia Scotch Marmo
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Theo van de Sande
Edited by Andrew Mondshein
Cinecom Entertainment Group
Double Play Productions
Dreyfuss/James Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
January 18, 1991
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $14,851,083

Once Around is a 1991 romantic comedy-drama film about a young woman who falls for and eventually marries an overbearing older man who proceeds to rub her close-knit family the wrong way, while exposing the dynamics of other family members along the way. It stars Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, Danny Aiello, Laura San Giacomo and Gena Rowlands and was written by Malia Scotch Marmo and directed by Lasse Hallström.


The Bellas are a close-knit family of Italian-Americans living in Boston, Massachusetts. Joe, the head of the family, owns a construction company. He's been married to Marilyn for 34 years and they have 3 children—Tony, Renata and Jan. Jan is about to get married, leading Renata to wonder why boyfriend Rob has not yet proposed to her. Once Rob reveals that he never plans on marrying her, she leaves him and moves back in with her parents.

Renata travels to the Caribbean, where she takes a course on selling condominiums. She meets Sam Sharpe, a highly successful salesman who makes a speech at a training seminar. They become instantly attracted and Sam accompanies her back to Boston, where Renata introduces him to her family. A chain-smoking, abrasive Sam is overly eager to please. While the majority of the Bellas give Sam a chance, Jan seems to have a particular dislike of him. This upsets Renata and the siblings' rapport becomes strained. Jan eventually apologizes and gives Renata her blessing.

Sam and Renata get married, with Sam relocating his business from New York to Boston so he can spend as much time with Renata as possible. At a memorial for Joe's late mother, Sam attempts to sing a song in her honor, but the Bellas, especially Marilyn, tell him it is highly inappropriate. Renata tells Sam he's tearing her family apart. They reconcile, and the next day Renata gives birth to their child. At the baptism, Sam suffers a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital.

Now in a wheelchair, Sam is welcomed home to the Bella residence to celebrate Christmas as a family. During dinner, he lights up a cigarette, which an irritated Renata throws into a glass of wine. On a frozen lake, Renata goes skating while Sam and their daughter watch from a distance. Sam passes away while still holding his child. After the funeral, Renata mourns but is grateful for the time they spent together and for Sam changing her life for the better. Renata's father directs the funeral procession through several rotations on a traffic round-about, something Sam greatly enjoyed during his life.



The film had a mixed reception.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ "Movies". Los Angeles Times. 1991-01-18. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (1991-01-18). "Once Around - Review/Film". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  3. ^ "Once Around". Washington Post. 1991-01-18. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 

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