The Man in the Moon (1991)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, Romance

The Man in the Moon (1991) Poster

A coming of age story set in the south of the U.S. when Elvis was King.


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28 February 2001 | marcslope
| Little Big Movie
It's a generic coming-of-age story -- think "The Member of the Wedding," "Summer of '42," "A Summer Place," even "Little Women" -- and there are moments where Mulligan might have omitted the soupy music, not used slow-motion, or played down the golden-lit prettiness of the setting. Otherwise, it's done with rare emotional perfect-pitch. Nothing's forced, every line has feeling, and the pacing is just right. Even the below-A-list casting helps: Bigger movie stars with more recognizable personalities might have overwhelmed the material. In particular, Witherspoon is excellent: Her line readings are fresh and original, and her body language is just right for a gawky, hoydenish 14-year-old on the eve of womanhood. Waterston is also very fine, even if he has to spend much of the movie climbing in and out of the family truck.

One senses that the film's makers were aware of its unpromising commercial prospects -- no big stars, no big car crashes, no special effects -- and consciously decided to make the best possible movie, box office be damned. It's intimate and honest, and it sticks to the ribs. If you find yourself misting up at the end, you don't have to feel you've been duped.

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