Jack Tatum’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have to say that I really wanted to love once upon a time but I just didn’t. I’d have to give it a 6/10 (knowing I already have a rating). It was definitely above average and enjoyable but not quite special. I kept asking myself throughout the movie “where is this going??” I had to think really hard after the movie that it wanted to focus on how these two guys (Rick dalton and cliff booth) are dealing with the changing times of Hollywood but I feel it just didn’t quite represent that, especially since a big chunk of the movie is in one day.
Like wolf of Wall Street for example (lol another Leonardo DiCaprio movie), it illustrated the downfall of this guy in Wall Street and the film did that perfectly. Once upon a time didn’t flesh that point very well even though that was the route they aspired to go.
It was for sure a very different movie than most these days which I completely appreciate. I just feel it would’ve been a lot more impactful if the audience could see over a period of time how these two guys are dealing with new times in hollywood. One of the scenes that really hinted at that well was when Rick was reading a western book that very much reflected his own life in how he’s not at his prime anymore. The more this plot point expanded, the more this story would’ve been more compelling. However, the best aspect of the movie has to be the world building of how Hollywood used to be in 1969. I could really get a sense of how things were in that time. All in all Once upon a time had very enjoyable moments that carried the movie with a potentially great storyline that failed to reach greatness.