Monday, February 22, 2010

SERIOUS MOONLIGHT (R) (now playing at home where you'll never look at sitting on the can quite the same again)

STARS: Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell
DIRECTOR: Cheryl Hines

How far would you go to convince your spouse of a truth he just couldn't see? In Serious Moonlight, Louise (Meg Ryan) is a Manhattan lawyer married 13 years to Ian, (Timothy Hutton) who just happens to be planning to abscond to Paris with his young mistress, Sara (Kristen Bell).

Louise shows up unexpectedly at their country house as Ian is composing his "Dear John" letter to her, and he reluctantly comes clean about his intentions. Convinced that her husband is temporarily blinded by infatuation, and not ready to shoot thirteen years down the sewer just like that, Louise cold-cocks him with a potted plant as he is walking out the door. While he is knocked out, Ian becomes all wrapped up in himself because his wife has duct taped him hand and foot. Learning that she intends to keep him immobilized until he comes to his senses and professes his love for her again, he requests that she at least set him on the toilet, which, like the good wife, she does--with his pants down. (I'm tempted to call this "potty humor," but that would be a crappy pun.)

Ian tries to cajole, sweet talk, and curse and yell his way out of his predicament--all to no avail. Louise--maniacally convinced of her version of reality-- bakes him cookies, reminisces, and even runs a slide show of old times as she argues her case. Will it work?

When Louise splits the scene for a short while, an opportunistic young burglar (Justin Long) shows up. Things turn a little mean (as befitting a dark comedy) when the burglar roughs the helpless husband up a bit, and even imparts some some scathing advice on relationships.

Both Louise and Sara--who has dropped by because she hasn't heard from Ian--will ironically end up in the same sticky duct tape predicament, courtesy of Todd the burglar. (Louise gets felt up a couple of times by the ill-mannered intruder--some cheap thrills for Meg Ryan fantasizers.) Todd trashes the place with his friends and then takes off, leaving the threesome to try to maneuver themselves free, and Ian to sort out his feelings for each of the women.

Meg Ryan--always a fine comic actress--is impishly and wickedly funny in this one. Kristen Bell, a good character actress, but not poised to be a leading lady--just yet (see my review of When In Rome) is fittingly cast as the "other bimbo." Timothy Hutton shows amazing forbearance, because he was lashed to that crapper and immobilized for up to twelve hours at a time during filming.

Serious Moonlight raises some intriguing philosophical questions about how far one should go to try to "save" another person from themselves. Penned by the late Adrienne Shelly, it has the intimate feel of a stage play. It's one of those rare little gems you don't expect to find, but end up grinning from ear to ear when you do. And Serious Moonlight has one of the coolest surprise endings ever!

P.S. More so than any other recent review I've written, people from all over the world have have been checking out this one, and they've been curious about one thing: THE ENDING!
While I can't overtly reveal what the ending of Serious Moonlight means-- for the sake of those who haven't yet seen it--the answer to your question, for those who have seen it, is...YES!