I'M THE ONE that I WANT directed by Lionel Coleman, written and performed by Margaret Cho, produced by Lorene Machado. 96 minutes. A Vagrant Films Canada release. Opens Friday (March 2). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 73. Rating: NNNNput margaret cho alone on a stage with a microphone and an audience and you've got a foul-mouthed, female Tony Robbins, an unlikely inspirational stand-up comic.
In her concert movie, I'm The One That I Want (filmed in her hometown of San Francisco), Cho shares her life story with her predominantly gay audience, which is primed to hear all about her horrific stint in Hollywood and the drug and alcohol addiction that almost killed her.
As a young stand-up who quit high school to pursue her career, she was chosen by ABC to star in her own sitcom, All-American Girl. This was in the early 90s, when networks were handing out TV shows as if they were Halloween candy.
According to Cho, it wasn't pretty. Not only was she asked to lose weight and glam up her image, but her humour was also watered down and Asian-American stereotypes ruled the show. She called it Saved By The Gong.
Cho bares her soul, taking shots at her own massive insecurity. Low self-esteem led her to become a workout junkie, losing 30 pounds in two weeks, an ordeal that caused her internal organs to stop working and landed her in hospital. She's also a ruthless commentator on the Hollywood scene, which greedily eats its own.
She's not afraid to share her humiliation at the show's cancellation, which she reacted to by soaking up booze and drugs and giving blow jobs to men she barely knew. But she never feels sorry for herself. That would impede the laughs.
Many of the guffaws come at the expense of her mother -- Cho acts out hilarious phone conversations with this odd but understanding parent. She also pays tribute to the hordes of adoring gay men who've supported her all along. Like she says, "We fag hags are the backbone of the gay community. Without us, you're nothing."
Her combination of raunchy mouth, brutal honesty and obvious love of performing makes her appealing and frighteningly human.