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A beautiful, poignant film. An agoraphobic's imaginative but troubled husband takes off with their son in a 1949 Pontiac to mark the 1969 lunar mission with a 'perfect act:' To match the mileage on the Pontiac and their arrival at a national park 'moon' crater to coincide with the distance to the moon and the astronauts' landing at 'Tranquility Base.' The agoraphobic wife overcomes her self-imposed, seven-year confinement in their house to pursue them in another unusual vehicle from her husband's collection. Various misadventures ensue. Watch for 'cameos.'
As a movie collector for decades who considers himself very critical & picky about films, I can't help myself, I love this movie. Yeah, it's maybe a little far-fetched or corny sometimes but there isn't a second of it that's not enjoyable it's just too charming and well directed with exactly that effect in mind, and with a beautiful musical score, superb cinematography and a tight script. I think Ted Danson possibly gives his best performance ever as Washington Bellamy, an enraptured-with-knowledge elementary school teacher who also collects beautifully oddball classic cars. The story line described above about trying to match the distance the Apollo crew travels by simultaneously driving over a large part of the country to the Spires of the Moon National Park is already a remarkably charming idea. This will be his "one perfect act" as he brings his very cute young boy with him, leaving behind an quirky paranoid wife who is always afraid to leave the house. Mary Steenburgen plays this part with superb humor as she sets off after her husband and son. Of course, interesting adventures and troubles occur during the journeys but it's Washington's never failing enthusiasm for life and its wonders that really make the film's ideas all work. I've watched this film a number of times and will watch it again into old age and when I'm no longer able to enjoy it I'll be ready to die.
After seeing this movie I felt that the creators did a good job paralleling the expedition to the moon and the traveling of the father and son. The Indian, Eric Schweig, held the characters together through their trip and allowed them to patch up their relationship by leaving them alone. He continuously gives Andy good advice concerning life and his father. But what I couldn't figure out was why they had to drive through Montana to get to Idaho from California, it is completely out of the way. The plot evolves as the mother finally leaves the home after 7 years of being boarded up inside. Ted Danson plays the father who is a genius professor with a strange behavioral side to him. But not to give the story away I will stop now and leave the rest to those that are interested in it.
B"H Being an old-car nut, this movie appealed to me because of the '49
Pontiac Eight that is one of the "stars" of the movie. Ted Danson's
acting was a little overdone, and some of the plot was thin. My kids
hate the flick.
However, watching Washington and Andy drive through the 1969 West in the Pontiac was fun. Besides the '49 Pontiac, there was an Amphicar (driven by Mary Steenburgen) as well as some neat oldies from the '40s sitting outside the Bellamy's home which Washington kept as collector cars.
Ultimately it was fun to watch the Bellamy family together again, being saved from a police manhunt as they drove the Amphicar across a lake to Canada.
Two parts of the movie were ridiculous; one was Andy Bellamy in his own father's science class, and putting a "455" V8 into the old Chief would have required major body modifications as well as a new transmission, impossible to do in a single night.
Inspiring was watching both the astronauts and the Bellamys preparing for their voyages at the same time, the liftoff and that shift of the old Hydra-Matic Drive into DR was a lot of fun to watch.
If you're the kind of moviegoer who looks for goofs, loopholes,
anachronisms & inconsistencies, then you may find yourself hating this
film. But I'm going to share with you one realization that turned the
whole thing around for me:
The plot of the film centers around a journey to reach the "Spires of the Moon National Park", but in real life, there is no such park.
This piece of trivia may not seem significant, but for me it was the key to my enjoyment of the whole film. Suddenly it dawned on me that, just like the fictitious National Park which has no basis in fact, other "goofs" were deliberately put there to give the film a surreal, tongue-in-cheek quality. In short, this is pure fantasy where anything goes.
And trust me, the last 20 minutes requires some heavy suspension of disbelief (the same way a '49 Pontiac Eight would require a whole new suspension if you put a 455 engine in there like they did)! The last 20 minutes featured things that were so absolutely wrong, it felt like a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movie ("Airplane!"), and I believe in its own subtle way, that was the intent of the filmmakers. So just bear in mind, things are supposed to get bizarre and dreamy.
Now on to the movie as a whole...
The story is refreshingly original. A wacky schoolteacher father (Ted Danson) decides to temporarily abscond with his sheltered son (Ryan Todd) in an impulsive effort to achieve "one perfect act", much to the chagrin of the agoraphobic mother (Mary Steenburgen, Dansons wife) who hasn't left the house in 7 years. What follows is a cute road movie full of interesting characters and a few preposterous action scenes (but now remember what I told you about suspension of disbelief) while past family mysteries slowly unravel themselves. Everything leads lead us to an outrageous conclusion that will either leave you sighing with delight or hurling apple pie at the TV screen.
This film is a one-of-a-kind. At first it felt like a sappy "E.T." type flick, but it soon morphs into something more along the lines of "Edward Scissorhands" only without the satire & quirkiness, then slips into something like the "Dukes of Hazzard" TV series, before bringing us to something reminiscent of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".
This is a very polished production with some memorable moments. The acting sometimes seems over the top, but that's the point (Danson & Steenburgen portraying polar extremes of lunacy). I didn't care for the musical soundtrack in the first half which seemed to upstage dialogue, but in the latter half the film featured well-placed nostalgic hits such as "Crimson & Clover", "Let's Get Together" (smile on your brother) and "Cheek to Cheek". The director Peter Medak, known for his prolific work on 70s-80s TV, did a nice job with some stylish visuals (watch for the car carrier under the stars and tell me how the heck he pulled that off!).
If you're prepared for a wild ride, especially if you are able to experience the movie as if it were a dream, you'll enjoy yourself. I must confess, cynical old curmudgeon that I am, I hated this movie through most of it. But I'm ready to watch it again through rose colored glasses and have fun the 2nd time around. Here's hoping you can skip the hatred part.
This is a good film for anyone who was a kid at the time of the Apollo
Landings and can remember how it felt to be alive at a momentous time in
The film oozes period nostalgia and the scenery on the roadtrip to The Peaks of the Moon in Idaho is quite breathtaking, and the relationship between the Ted Danson character and his young son is quite touching.
You cant expect anyone who wasn't alive at the time this movie was set to appreciate the feelings that the story creates, this is one for those who still retain those feelings of innocense and the feelings of hope that you had; being young in 1969.
It's more than just a movie, it unlocks feelings and emotions you thought you had long forgotten. Not a movie for the cynical, or for the Nintendo generation whom have no historical perspective and no idea what it was like to alive when the World was a place of hope.
Pontiac Moon is such a perfect movie that it's easily one of my top 5
favourites. It's intelligent, fun and perfectly crafted and acted. Ted
Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Ryan Todd perform as if the roles were
written for them and they carry the film with gusto and subtlety. It is
such a joy to watch (and I've watched it several times) that I can't
help but wonder why others can't "get it" but must pick at points that
are simply irrelevant. Do you question whether Superman can actually
fly or where is the exact location of the Shire? Pontiac Moon is a
movie for heaven's sake and it's hugely enjoyable, moving and
entertaining. It encourages you to step out of your box and go out into
the world because life is meant to be an adventure of the mind and
body. This is not for people who wish to live average and mediocre
lives of quiet desperation. I'll watch it again and again.
Thank you, Ted Danson.
I saw it 20 years ago once and was looking for it since as I could not
remember the title, but could not forget the simple and yet very
touching story. The story is about LOVE. a "must see"family movie. i
think it is as good as the "Christmas Story", showing that one can have
a fairly good childhood even with crazy parents. I love characters in
it, the geeky father and agoraphobic mother, the kid who is about to
start to suspect that his parents are not as good as "others'". I like
the plot of the film that is about a journey to reach the "Craters of
the Moon National Park" in Idaho and drive an exact amount of miles to
scale the real distance Apollo had to make. the father and son have to
go quite a distance from California through Montana to make the miles
match. The story gets more interesting as the mother has to overcome
her fears to join them, ultimately saving her family and marriage.
While the story presented as a memoir of the child the overt part of the plot is quite simplistic. Yet what actually happens on unspoken level is extremely dramatic and revolutionary, even for just one family. For me it was the key to my enjoyment of the whole film. The simplicity of a road movie reflects just the quality of the childhood memory, deliberately put there to give the film a tone, yet symbolic meaning of it has so many layers. In short, this could be just a dream or fantasy where anything goes and open for the endless interpretations. Especially towards the end of the film things are supposed to get really dreamy and even bizarre.
Dan Dansen plays the Jr high eccentric teacher with a spirit for
science you will always remember. Mary S. reclusive & homebound cannot
leave her home until Dan & his son secretly set out on a cross country
trip to 'spiars of the moon' driving in a 1960 Pontiac. Mary S. chasing
after Dan in a amphibious car. The trip for both takes the audience
along for more fun & adventure & laughs to the 'spiars of the moon' (a
meteor crater). I highly recommend this movie to anyone waiting to take
this kind of inspiring ride with Dan & Mary.
Along the way Dan loses his wallet, stranded in the desert at night, & is being chased by the Police. Dan's son who keeps a pet snake for the whole trip becomes quite useful in a bar.
The film seems so realistic & possible which added to all the Fun. ENJOY.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The summer of 1969. Eccentric science teacher Washington Bellamy (a
delightfully exuberant performance by Ted Danson) decides to embark on
a cross country road trip in his 1949 Pontiac Chief with his sheltered
11-year-old son Andy (a solid and likable portrayal by Ryan Todd) in
tow. Bellamy's goal is to reach the Spires of the Moon National Park at
the same exact time that the Apollo XI astronauts land on the moon.
Meanwhile, Bellamy's timid agoraphobic wife Katherine (beautifully
played with touching vulnerability by Mary Steenburgen) works up the
courage to leave the house and follow after them.
Director Peter Medak, working from an offbeat, yet thoughtful script by Finn Taylor and Jeffrey Brown, offers an affectionate evocation of the late 1960's period setting, ably crafts and sustains a pleasant warm tone, makes the most out of the picturesque locations, and further enhances things with amusing moments of gentle wacky humor. A slew of sharp cameos from a top-drawer cast gives this picture an extra appealing lift: Cathy Moriarty as predatory barfly Lorraine, Eric Schweig as friendly pacifist Native American Ernest Ironplume, Max Gail as Bellamy's supportive farmer brother Jerome, J.C. Quinn as an irascible bartender, John Schuck as a bumbling state trooper, and Don Swayze as a hostile redneck. The bright and attractive cinematography by Thomas Kloss provides a pleasing sparkling look. Randy Edelman's lush and lively score hits the sweeping spot. A nice little film.
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