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M.I.O. Movie Review: One Day as a Lion

Move over Tulsa King! There's a new Okie crime and punishment dramedy available to stream!

This one is called One Day as a Lion – a new flick distributed by Lionsgate that was primarily filmed in Oklahoma.

The movie was written by – and stars – Scott Caan, the guy your parents and grandparents watch and know from the revamped Hawaii Five-O, but I will always remember as Charlie in Varsity Blues, the 90s classic that portrays the cold and cruel and occasionally funny world of the West Canaan, Texas footballers.

Filmed in various communities in NE Oklahoma, One Day as a Lion takes place in small-town Oklahoma, where local redneck kingpin Walter (J.K. Simmons) rides to town on a horse.

There he proceeds to drink coffee and have a little breakfast in a place I'd probably like to review someday. While eating, he is attacked by Jackie (Caan), leading to a shoot-out. This is already better than most Stallone movies!

Though Walter manages to escape, Caan makes off with the waitress, Lola (Marianne Rendón). In a matter of seconds, they have an immediate connection. Using her thespian skills from a South American acting school, they create a pact to get the money off Lola’s shrewish mom in a nursing home.

As more is ultimately revealed, Caan is a single father trying to get his son out of juvie, necessitating a hit job on Walter. Meanwhile, some very stereotypical New York mafia-clones come out to shake Walter for money on sizeable debts; this earns a big fuck you from Walter, immediately forgetting about Jackie and his problems.

With the storyline diverging into two separate plots, it’s all about Caan trying to get his son back from the system and the rednecks and goombahs preparing for an all-out low-rent mafia war. Two movies for the price of one!

At around 88 minutes, this is a tightly-packed, vacuum-sealed crime movie with comedic-enough elements.

Caan really reminds me of Ryan Gosling in Drive, but with more of a personable personality than the blank canvas of cold aloofness.

Using his Whiplash intensity, Simmons also does a sizable job at being a white-trash gangster, and really, so does indie stalwart Rendón as the affable pseudo-waitress.

Directed by Oklahoma native (and former runaway!) John Swab, this movie was shot in Tulsa, Stigler, Sand Springs, Barnsdall, Vinita, and Barstow. But I am really into the Daylight Donuts and Super Morelos product placement in many of the shots!

A new release, One Day as a Lion is a surprisingly entertaining movie that really pairs well with carnitas and cinnamon rolls, but, really, what doesn’t?


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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