Pontiac Moon (1994) Poster

(1994)

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Not for Soulless Dullards
Iroffman27 September 2002
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.'
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10/10
Love this movie
gm_muse19 September 2005
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.
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Oh how I hated this movie... until I suddenly realized one thing
rooprect17 September 2013
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.
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7/10
A clever production about a family, a road trip, and a journey to the moon.
Aficionadodelosmovies8 December 2002
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.
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8/10
Quirky, moving, and enjoyable sleeper
Woodyanders15 September 2015
Warning: 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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9/10
a perfect movie
Wind River21 December 2014
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.
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10/10
i was looking for this movie for 20 years
allbask-185-1796314 December 2014
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.
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Good, nostalgic film
abarsby21 October 2002
This is a good film for anyone who was a kid at the time of the Apollo Moon Landings and can remember how it felt to be alive at a momentous time in World History.

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.
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A Fun Trip in a Classic Car
gojoe32723 December 2004
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.
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10/10
Ted Danson must have loved making this movie...
dleiker-110 November 2006
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.
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9/10
I thoroughly enjoyed this feel-good family movie.
sharibth26 February 2005
what a beautiful, heartfelt movie. I was touched by the storyline about an agoraphobic mother, and overly eccentric father, and their young son, innocent but wise beyond his years, who holds the fragile family together. The journey that father and son take to "Spires of the Moon" as it parallels to the actual 1969 moon landing was cleverly and beautifully done. It took me back to a time in history that I will never forget. Ted Danson's over the top performance was well suited to the character he was playing, the odd but loving husband and father, desperate to make things right for his family. Mary Steenburgen gave a compassionate and sensitive performance as the wife and mother plagued by her past, fiercely protective of her son, and unable to show her love for her husband. And Ryan Todd as their son is truly a gifted young actor. I was inspired by his believable and moving performance. he is a natural. The cameo appearances by other well known performers added to the storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed this feel good movie and the message it sends to us all. It is one I will watch over and over again.
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7/10
Exploring boldness
Milhaud18 March 2000
I really liked that movie for the originality of the plot. From the beginning, on the one hand, you have Apollo XI taking off to the Moon in the boldest and riskiest adventure in all the history of humanity, and on the other hand, you have Katherine Bellamy, who can't even step out of her house because she is too afraid of the world out there. And between those two extremes, you have Washington Bellamy, his husband, who has a drive to explore and discover but hasn't made a single trip with his 11-year old son because Katherine doesn't even want her son to step into a car.

Now Washington is too inspired by the Apollo odyssey and decides it is time for his son to discover something more than what you can find in books. They will drive from their home in California to a natural crater in Idaho, in exactly the same time as Apollo XI gets from Earth to Moon.

The parallelism between the father-and-son trip and the space journey is maintained from the beginning to the end. Of course, the father and the son will strengthen their ties during the trip, the son will learn why his mother is so timorous and... maybe there's a happy ending over there!
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8/10
End of the movie blooper
michaelejahn9 July 2006
I loved the accuracy of the movie - the cars, the clothes...but at the end, when the men land on the Moon, it was July 20th, 1969 - but they show the moon as full - I remember looking at the moon that night, and have check the lunar phases calender - it was waxing crescent, and did not phase to full until July 29th. I really liked the acting, and think Ted really had fun playing this part. Lots of odd surprises and interesting characters. The photography was really well done too, beautiful shots of the amazing scenery. If you want to sit down with a bag of pop corn with the entire family, there is something there for everyone. Educational quotations, write from wrong, bad guys get whooped, and a small history lesson - it has it all.
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1/10
Killed Danson's Career
unlv_224 January 2006
This film truly killed Danson's leading man status in feature films. While he was on a bit of a down-slide anyways, this movie effectively ended any bit of star power he had left. It is the reason he began starring in many made for TV movies and series, not to say that Becker wasn't a very good series. The script in this movie was just so horrendous and that kid was the worst child actor I have probably ever seen. They should have got a young looking midget who can actually act and have him play the child, it would have probably been more believable. Danson's agent should have been fired after this movie if he wasn't. I realize that he loves his wife and starring in movies and TV shows is a good way to spend time together, but the product that is produced every time is just not up to par with much of his own work.
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8/10
long way around
csimpkins5321 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First of all I feel that this movie is underrated. Perhaps I feel that way because my father was an aerospace engineer involved with the space program from it's inception through the earliest shuttle flights. Aficonadodelosmovies from Idaho states:..."why they had to drive through Montana to get to Idaho from California, it is completely out of the way" This is explained by Bellamy to his son before they leave home. Bellamy demonstrates this to his son using a map. They had to follow an exact round about route. Bellamy and his son were forced to take an out of the way, long way around so the Pontiac's odometer would read exactly the same mileage as the distance from the earth to the moon when they arrived at the fictional "Spires of the moon." Bellamy very carefully and intentionally plotted their route the long way around so that when they arrived at "Spires of the Moon" the odometer would read the same miles as the distance from the earth to the moon. If they had gone by the direct route the Pontiac's mileage would have been nowhere near the miles they needed to match the distance from the earth to the moon. The movie made it very clear that this out of the way route was very intentional and necessary.
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Spires of the Moon National Park???
beecool5327 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I enjoyed this movie, as many others did... but my comment here is about the so called "Spires of the Moon National Park" that was their destination. Maybe I'm being too anal here and this Park is just a made-up place to fit in with the idea of the movie. But, if not, well...I've checked maps of Idaho, and also search engines for this park...and could not find this park. I knew already of the "Craters of the Moon National Park" in Idaho, which is in southern eastern Idaho, and not very near the Canadian border...but not "Spires". I also like Eric Schweig in this movie. He only got to play the "stoic" American Indian... but he is so cute.
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Unbearable Giant Soap.
MovieAddict201617 August 2003
Ted Danson snoozes his way through the film with real-life wife Mary Steenburgen. Very bad script, very bad direction, very boring - tries to be a grand epic with hidden meanings but it is just not. Bad acting, especially on the child's part. A Haley Joel Osment he is not. One to skip.

2/5 stars -

John Ulmer
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1/10
The worst film I've ever seen
JoElin4 November 1999
This is the worst movie I have ever viewed in my young life. I knew it was going to be bad because my friends had warned me but I was not prepared for the extent of its putridness. It was filmed in Mendocino (my old home town) and so I thought that it might have something to offer. But no. It, quite frankly, sucks.
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1/10
108 minutes of agony
moonpics-14 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
One of the worst films of the modern age. Ted Danson's own production company picked Ted for the lead in this saccharine-fest. Producer, heal thyself. Ted plays a goofball car-collecting school teacher who flails his cane around like he's Scrooge McDuck. His wife (Mary Steenburgen) is a housebound agoraphobic who ironically has an aversion to cars (gosh, I wonder if this will creep into the story?) He wants to turn his Pontiac's odometer to the magic number at the same time Apollo 11 lands on the moon (having traveled the same number of miles). Good idea, but only if it means driving it off a cliff. Bad, bad acting by Danson, a stupid plot, this is not worth sneaking into for free.

Please visit my website for more of my top-ten best and worst films at http://www.theflickguy.org

Cheers!

The Flick Guy
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5/10
Odometer Error
ixmnis8 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
One scene shows the Pontiac loaded on the back of a car carrier driving into the night because the father and the Indian had too much to drink. The number of miles they rode on this truck would have thrown off their precise measure in getting the odometer to read the exact distance to the moon.

It was a good movie, but would have been better if it wasn't made out to be a comedy. The seriousness if the family history should have lead to a serious story instead of poor attempts at humor thrown in along the way. They didn't really utilize the powerful engine installed in the car, and that whole part of the plot bringing in stalling of the car, replacing the engine and bringing the police was more of a distraction than an addition to the plot.
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