Monday, June 21, 2010

The Man in the Moon (1991)- PG13

reprinted in-part from Netflix review

This is an excellent coming-of-age/first romance movie, masterfully directed by Robert Mulligan who brought us "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Fear Strikes Out" and "Summer of 42", among others. This was his last directorial effort and he picked a fine film in which to close out his career. The stars of this movie are the kids, Dani, played by Reese Witherspoon in her film debut, Maureen, played by Emily Warfield and Court, played by Jason London. Warfield and London have since had moderate theatrical success, but Witherspoon has been the one to achieve box office stardom...and the reason for that disparity is pretty evident in this movie as Witherspoon (who was only 15 in 1991) already comes across as an accomplished actor. The story of the two sisters (Witherspoon and Warfield) falling in love with the same boy (London) is a familiar one, but never portrayed better than here. Combine that with a near-tragedy that strikes the pregnant mother (Tess Harper) and a real tragedy that strikes as the heart of the teen romance and you've got the makings of a real tear jerker. Mulligan's intelligent direction though keeps this from becoming too cliched and maudlin and the lessons learned after tragedy (and near tragedy) strikes helps to reunite the sisters and the family.

This excellent film should be seen because of the brilliant performance of Reese Witherspoon. However, it should also be seen because of the outstanding examples of parenting, played by Sam Waterston and Tess Harper. The film demonstrates how parents can affirm the first sexual and love feelings of a 14 year old. The parents don’t panic despite pain and tragedy. They model strength and acceptance without melodrama. I highly recommend this film.

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