Open main menu

Once Around is a 1991 American 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.

Once Around
Once around poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLasse Hallström
Produced byAmy Robinson
Griffin Dunne
Written byMalia Scotch Marmo
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyTheo van de Sande
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Cinecom Entertainment Group
Double Play Productions
Dreyfuss/James Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
January 18, 1991
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million
Box office$14,851,083


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 has been married to Marilyn for 34 years and they have three children—Renata, Tony and Jan. Jan (the youngest) is about to get married, leading introverted Renata (the eldest and only one not married) to wonder why her 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 Lithuanian-American[1] salesman who makes a speech at a training seminar. They are instantly attracted to each other, and Sam accompanies her back to Boston, where Renata introduces him to her family. The 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 is tearing her family apart. They reconcile, and the next day Renata gives birth to their daughter. 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 had together and for Sam changing her life for the better. Joe directs the funeral procession through several rotations on a traffic round-about, something Sam learned from his father-in-law and greatly enjoyed during his life.



The movie gained mixed-to-positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 70% "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 critics.[2][3][4]

Several details of Lithuanian-American culture are present in the film, such as the folk dance in the wedding party, the folksong about motherhood, and the priest performing the baptism of the newborn child.[1]


  1. ^ a b "The Lithuanian Angle in a Hollywood Movie: An Analysis of Once Around". Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Movies". Los Angeles Times. 1991-01-18. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1991-01-18). "Once Around - Review/Film". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  4. ^ "Once Around". Washington Post. 1991-01-18. Retrieved 2012-06-04.

External linksEdit