Serious Moonlight Suffers Some Serious Problems

Serious Moonlight is the film directorial debut of veteran comedienne Cheryl Hines. At the center of this dark comedy is Louise, played by Meg Ryan, who upon discovering her husband Ian’s, a role commanded by Timothy Hutton, infidelity with a younger woman, Sara played by Kristen Bell, duct tapes him to the toilet in an effort to prevent him from leaving her. To make matters worse, Louise’s plan is further complicated when a burglar, played by Justin Long, breaks into their home. For all intents and purposes, it seems like the premise would be the stuff that black comedy is made of. However, in the process, something goes horribly awry.
It’s impossible to tell what really went wrong in this film’s transformation from script to screen, but something certainly did. One of the most trying parts of the film is the story itself. It seems that the idea would work better as a short rather than a feature. The comedic aspects of the film drag on too long in scenes that frequently feature little action. At times, it begins to feel as if one is watching a play. Truth be told, this film as a play would probably function a lot better. Instead, the “comedy” gets wrapped up in the filmic aspects, for example the use of close ups to help the audience identify with rather flat characters. A lot of the movie could benefit from the use of spacial relationships to flesh out the characters and their relationships to one another, but this is a possibility that is largely unexplored. Furthermore, in an act that is frequently used in plays, the movie seems to bounce along from one monologue to another. It puts too much strain on the actors, when a lot of the comedy feels as if it should come from the actor and actresses playing off one another.
Perhaps one of my biggest problems with the movie was the casting of Meg Ryan. So much of comedy is based in intonation and inflection and it seems that the only skill set she possesses in this movie is whining. By the end of the first act, I was begging for someone to put me out of my misery. I understand Meg Ryan’s attempt to shed her “America’s Sweetheart” rom-com image, but honestly, that’s what she’s best at. I’m not even a fan of those films, but I can at least tell that’s where she excels. In the role of jilted lover, meg Ryan appears unsympathetic and obnoxious. Part of her role is her workaholic persona, but it doesn’t seem that there’s much else to her. When she is rendered unconscious, I honestly found myself thanking whatever higher power there is up there. Generally, that’s a bad sign in a female lead. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not a good sign for the audience to feel that way about any of the leads. Regardless, perhaps Meg Ryan isn’t entirely to blame, but she is at least part of the problem.
In the end, Serious Moonlight suffers from some serious troubles. The premise itself is promising, if not a little strained when clocking in at only 84 minutes. The matter is not helped by the unexplored potential of the film. In some key scenes, Louise, Ian, and Sara play off of each other in an enjoyable way. However, there’s not nearly near enough of this to sustain the whole film. The highlights of the film are few and far between, but enough to make it worth your while. While it certainly won’t be winning any awards this season, Cheryl Hines’ film debut shows promise, but still left me wanting more. Well, maybe not more Meg Ryan… in fact, I could do with a little less of her, but you catch my drift.

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One thought on “Serious Moonlight Suffers Some Serious Problems

  1. you wouldn't know a good film if it smacked ya in the head. Give us a shout when you're reviewing for a legit publication or outlet that has more than 5 readers/viewers. Then we might take you seriously. And by the way. Youve already been put out of your misery, or at least ours, by being limited to writing in the journalism equivalent of Siberia.

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