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Serious Moonlight (2009) Print E-mail
Monday, 15 February 2010
Image"Serious Moonlight" is a serious tragedy.  While, Magnolia delves into the depths of independent filmmaking to find up and coming directors, something went terribly wrong with this one.  While this is not an independent feature is sure feels like one.  Despite its all-star cast and hilarious director, the film flops big time.

Throughout watching this film there is a sense of déjà vu.  At the same time you know that you haven't seen this film before.  And that is what this film is all about – mixed emotions.  I had hopes for this film given that Meg Ryan and Tim Hutton are the primary stars.  However, the film doesn't go anywhere.  The journey dredges on slowly and then jumps to the end like the filmmakers got tired of their pet project.

I adore Meg Ryan and never thought a film of hers could be a flop, but I have been proven wrong.  Ryan went so far overboard in her whacky-ness that it borders on a disturbingly juvenile actor instead of a veteran.  The same goes for Hutton.  The problem is that neither actor was given anything to work with in the script.  The same dialogue is used over and over again.  There are only so many ways to deliver a line, and the script called for all of them and then some.

The film's trailer showed promise, but the premise of the film has poor timing.  We get straight to act two within about 10 minutes of the film and then spend the next hour and fifteen minutes in act two and the last 30 seconds in act three.  The conclusion of the film is not as surprising or revealing as the filmmakers hoped it would be.  In part this is due to the fact that the filmmakers did not emphasize the final reveal properly.  It goes unnoticed by most audiences.

Ryan and Hutton star as husband and wife.  When timing for their weekend away at their country home goes awry, Ryan catches her husband leaving a letter stating his intentions to leave her.  And now we jump to Hutton getting conked on the head and waking up duct taped to a chair.  Ryan then makes it her mission for the rest of the film to get Hutton to admit that he still loves her and that he will not leave her for Sara (Kristen Bell), a 24 year-old secretary.

You may be wondering how much screen time could possibly be devoted to Hutton duct taped to a chair.  Well, the answer is not all that much.  As a matter of fact it doesn't take long before he gets duct taped to a toilet with his pants down.  Now the question is, how long can Ryan argue to death with Hutton?  The answer – until a thief shows up to rob the place.  This places a duct taped Ryan with a duct taped Hutton.  Don't worry, Sara is soon to join them.  Now the bathroom consists of the three individuals who should have sat down and talked to begin with.
Here is my major problem with the film.  The duct tape.  I know duct tape is strong, but you are telling me that three people in a bathroom can't figure out how to free themselves?  Especially since two of the barely have the hands and feet bound.  You are telling me that in an entire bathroom there are no razors or scissors?  I know this not to be true since a razor is shown sitting next to a rubber ducky at one point.  Okay, that isn't working.  How about teeth?  There are several options and yet the three sit there on the bathroom floor flopping around when it is obvious they are free to move about.  Okay, enough ranting.  This film has too many issues to list and explore.  If you want to discover horrible filmmaking, then look no further than this film.  I hate to say it because this film did have potential.

It is rare to have a film on Blu-ray that looks as bad as the film is.  I don't know what the studio was thinking, but this disc looks like a VHS.  The colors palette is drab as ever.  There are roses and petals all over the house and yet the reds are dreary.  Dreary is an accurate description of the entire image.  Black levels are hazy and fully unresolved.  This leaves the contrast level weak on all parts of the spectrum.  Details and textures are more than merely absent.  They don't seem to have ever existed.  Absolutely nothing in the image has texture leaving the image lifeless.  One of the most disappointing aspects of the transfer is the softness of every shot.  Whether it be a close up or an establishing shot, nothing seems to be in focus.  Not only is it not in focus, but it wavers in unfocused consistency within a single shot, like someone was playing with the focus pull.  The source print has a variety of noise and there are actually compression artifacts.  I simply just don't understand this transfer.  While several of the issues are related to horrible choices and a lack of proper lighting on the set, the end result is still unacceptable.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 and is completely uninspired.  The mix is entirely front heavy and practically fully centered.  Dialogue is weighty and prioritized above everything else.  The LFE channel is absent.  Dynamics are weak and frequency response remains in the mids.  There is nothing else to say about this audio track.  It is completely forgettable and hardly worth mentioning.

There are three bonus features.  First, there is an audio commentary with Director Hines and a couple of producers.  This is a bland commentary in which the participants laugh amongst themselves.  It is difficult to sit through this film the first time, so I can't imagine watching it again for the commentary.  Next there is a standard making of featurette and a standard promo piece by HDNet.  All the features are in standard definition, not that the film has proven itself worthy of being called high definition.

I have to advise against "Serious Moonlight."  The transfer is about as bad as the film itself.  Unless you are a die hard Meg Ryan fan, steer clear.

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