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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

All's fair in love and war on crime.

Serious Moonlight (2009) on IMDb

Plot Overview

To the breezy background strains of, “(Getting Some) Fun Out of Life,” a taxi wends its way to the country vacation home of business­man Ian (Timothy Hutton.) Ian is experiencing a mid-life crisis. He's going to frolic with his mistress Sara (Kristen Bell) over­night before leaving with her for Paris in the morning. He's thinking of changing his career. Eventually he will sell the house. He writes a note to his wife who is to arrive the following evening, telling her their marriage is at a cross­roads and he's leaving her. We can't judge him too harshly as he's just weak. He put up with years of boredom and for a time resisted his new honey's advances.

Arriving unexpectedly a day early is his wife Louise (Meg Ryan.) Louise is “an accomplished woman, with an amazing career and a ton of friends.” As is the case with most successful people, she knows how to delegate. We hear her on the phone with her assistant Michelle, assigning her respon­si­bili­ties, over her strenuous objections. “Handle it your­self, Miss Harvard bachelorette,” she tells her. “That's what I pay you to do.” Louise is good enough at girl talk to persuade a startled Sara to meet Ian at the air­port in the morning after he and Louise sort out some “final details.” She'd fulfilled Ian's mother's expectations that, “I was the best thing that ever happened to you. I picked you up by your boot­straps and gave you a life.” Now she is going to have to make him come to his senses. We can't give Louise a complete pass, because her long hours is what took the toll on their marriage. Nor can we completely blame Sara who is just immature; she didn't mean for it to happen, her falling for a married man.

setting the tableIn the resulting standoff Ian concedes to Louise, “You're a super woman. You make more money than I do. You can fix any­thing.” She reasons with him, then charms him. Doesn't work. She makes a list of “How to make Ian love me Again,” crossing off more ideas than you or I would ever think of in the first place. Eventually, she tells Ian she is heading into town for supplies so she can make “a fancy, romantic dinner.” She's going to cook up some­thing special for him.

lawn guyIn Greek plays when the plot got too convoluted, they resolved it with a device called deus ex machina (lit. a god from a machine.) A god would be lowered by ropes, who would then set things straight. Here a lawn boy (Justin Long) comes by to cut their grass, but he's really casing the house to rob it. Imagine his surprise when he, “comes into the house, and the owner's already tied up for you. That's proof of a higher power if you ask me.” He and his confederates proceed to merrily rob the place. Even here the burglar doesn't come off as the complete lowlife, because unlike Ian he'd never promise a woman a life of love and devotion, and then not fulfill it. We get to watch these four parties sort out their lives with­out any clear cut good guy and bad guy.


Louise laments, “A relationship ending is like a death just two people know about. A whole life gets lost, every­thing we did together.” Their whole world is about to be destroyed. It's like their gold­fish whose fish­bowl gets knocked over in the fray leaving the fish flopping around on the floor. Unless a higher power, i.e. a human, restores it, it's a goner. The deal for this couple is, “It's gonna take some­thing much bigger, an act of God, really.”

In the movie “Say Anything,” some recent high school grads defined a date as “prearrangement, with the possibility of love.” The Book of Esther shows an origin of dating when Queen Esther made a lunch date with the king. Prearrangement resulted in a plan change when the king unable to sleep the night before had some court records read to him and so was kept from a folly. The possibility of love was represented when the king's right hand man Haman tried to bond with Esther at the lunch date to get her to intercede on his behalf. Thus a date embodies the two greatest commandments: to love God with all one's being giving him opportunity to intercede in our affairs by our prearranging the meeting, and physically bonding with one's date to best under­stand him or her and treat him with love of neighbor.

“Moonlight” already has the prearrangement of the meeting in the country home if she can just keep him there, so all that is needed is a bit of physical intimacy to qualify as a date. Ian seems unwilling to give her that. Let's look at the biblical precedent where, (Esther 7:1) “the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen.” The queen related her people's problem to the king.

(Esther 7:5-8) “Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king's mouth, they covered Haman's face.”

In those days banquets were conducted reclining on couches. Haman had latched onto the queen to plead for sympathy. Here Louise reminded Ian of their anniversary dinner two months ago—a date, as it were—where, “You leaned into me; you said you were so happy.” That's the kind of physical intimacy that bonds a dating couple. In the movie's opening song were the words, “With our little petting/ We're getting/ Some fun out of life.” All that needs to happen is for some external threat to bond the married couple with each other again (“I just want you to be next to me, Louise”) and they've got their date where it's gonna happen if any­where. Says Ian, “It's gonna take a miracle, nothing less,” and then he discounts it as, “the odds of getting some­thing other­worldly happening here” are pretty remote.

Production Values

” (2009) was directed by Cheryl Hines and written by the late Adrienne Shelly. It stars Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell, and Justin Long. The casting fit the roles hand in glove and the result was excellent performances all around. Meg Ryan was smokin'.

MPAA rated it R for language and some threatening behavior. The rural setting and big house photo­graphed well. The gentle music fit the rolling plot. The story tele­graphs itself if you pay attention.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This one did not do well at the box office, but I liked it. It's a dark comedy worthy of a few chuckles. Not every­body has my sense of humor. Country life can be strange some­times and I grew up in the country. A city sophisticate might be put off by it. I thought the plot was a gem.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

“(Getting Some) Fun Out of Life.” Written by Edgar Leslie and Joseph A. Burke. Courtesy, Range RJ Music, Inc.