Serious Moonlight (2009)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Domestic Comedy  |   Release Date - Dec 4, 2009 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

It's clear that the makers of Serious Moonlight were sincerely trying to honor the memory of talented filmmaker/actress Adrienne Shelly by producing another one of her scripts. Sadly, the film is a disappointment. It lacks the low-key charm and the command of tone that Shelly achieved in her final directorial effort, and most successful film, Waitress. Instead, Serious Moonlight, with two big Hollywood stars (Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton) playing the leads, and two promising younger stars (Kristen Bell and Justin Long) in key supporting roles, is shrill and confused. Novice director Cheryl Hines might have been better off taking a more subtle approach to what seems to be pretty challenging material, as the film mixes slapstick with genuine brutality, and bitter marital comedy with glimmers of sentimentality. There's an underlying darkness to the premise that the filmmakers aren't willing to delve into. As despicable as Ian (Hutton) is, there's also something innately repulsive about Louise's (Ryan) sense of entitlement that the film never adequately addresses, and her desperation is not as amusing as it's meant to be. It's indicative of the film's problems that when the young girlfriend, Sara (Bell), shows up, she's a cartoon, because while Bell is certainly capable of bringing depth to such a character, Sara has to remain a straw [wo]man for us to maintain any interest in the main couple working things out. Long's character, meanwhile, is pure contrivance. So we're left with a lot of yelling, and two extremely unsympathetic main characters. The film just gets tiresome quickly.