Moonlight Mile

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Nast
Dustin Hoffman as Ben Floss
Susan Sarandon as JoJo Floss
Aleksia Landeau as Cheryl
Holly Hunter as Mona Camp
Careena Melia as Diana Floss
Ellen Pompeo as Bertie Knox
Dabney Coleman as Mike Mulcahey

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary by Director Brad Silberling
Audio Commentary by Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Brad Silberling
“Moonlight Mile: A Journey To Screen”

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 117 Minutes

Synopsis:
After the tragic death of his fiancée, Joe Nast is left alone with his in-laws to be, Ben and JoJo Floss. Together the three must face a barrage of well-wishers, life without Diana, and the trial of her murderer. To make matters worse, each feels a secret responsibility for her death. Despite no longer having a tie with Ben and Jojo, Joe stays around to keep them company out of a sense of obligation. However, he inadvertently finds a new love, Bertie, while mourning Diana. Can he pursue a relationship with her while still feeling responsible for Diana’s parents?

This film is partially based on the life of the film’s writer and director, Brad Silberling.

“Moonlight Mile” is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and brief strong language.

The Movie:
I must admit that I didn’t look forward to seeing this movie. I knew what it was about and I was expecting nothing but a dramatic tearjerker. The last thing I wanted to see was a depressing film about death and tragedy. However, while the film did include those somber aspects, it also had a surprising amount or humor and intrigue.

The much needed humor keeps the film from being a completely miserable experience. Sarandon makes unexpected light of the parade of well wishers that come by the house. A dog provides a lot of comic relief by barfing in the middle of a party, getting beat up by Bertie’s cat, and more. Poor Joe looks completely blindsided by all of the sympathy. Subtle bits of humor are also spread throughout the movie in the background. Joe can’t seem to sit in front of a TV without seeing the Newlywed Game or the Dating Game. A photography studio is filled with wedding portraits of many different brides in identical poses. The photographer seems particularly confused when Ben asks to stand in a different pose. All of these bits of humor totally change the mood of the film and make it much more accessible for those trying to avoid a tearjerker.

The cast, as you would expect, is excellent. Dustin Hoffman is great as the work-obsessed father. Only after his daughter is gone does he realize how he neglected her, yet he still feels compelled to answer every telephone call. Susan Sarandon is funny as the eccentric mother who does her best to hide her loneliness and sadness at losing Diana. Her reactions to the funeral will make people laugh, especially if you’ve been through one. Having been to a number of funerals myself lately, I completely sympathized with her character. Jake Gyllenhaal is also fantastic as the guilt-ridden Joe. He doesn’t know how to feel about the loss of Diana and his confusion is only compounded by the secret he holds. Ellen Pompeo, who is apparently a clone of Renee Zellweger, is cute as his new love interest. She is also able to hold her own with all of these well-known actors. All together they help raise the quality of the film considerably.

The soundtrack is pretty good. It features quite a bit of classic rock from the 70′s. In fact, the film is set in the early 70′s though this is never implicitly stated. I only realized it myself halfway through. I guess that says something about today’s retro styles.

As much as I thought the film was funny, well made, and well acted, it does get a bit boring towards the end. As the story gets closer and closer to the trial of the murderer, the comedy drops away and everything gets a bit darker. I was interested in the story through about ¾ of it, then I lost interest. Your enjoyment of it will depend largely in your taste in movies.

The Extras:
This DVD has a few high quality extras. There are quite a few Deleted Scenes included on the disc. You can play them with commentary from the writer / director if you choose. None of the scenes add much to the overall story, though.

You have two Audio Commentaries to choose from. One is by Director Brad Silberling and the other is by Dustin Hoffman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Brad Silberling. I preferred the one with the cast. The trio keeps the conversation lively and they talk about the meaning behind the scenes, trivia about filming, and much more. There’s some funny conversation about the dog (named Nixon), the inordinate amount of brown in the clothing, and other amusing anecdotes.

“Moonlight Mile: A Journey To Screen” is a documentary that seems to have been on TV at one time. It pretty thoroughly covers the making of the movie from the scripting to the casting to the filming. The entire cast is interviewed and it’s all well edited together.

Overall the extras are a bit more than you might otherwise expect from a non-genre film.

The Bottom Line:
“Moonlight Mile” isn’t nearly as dark or as depressing as you might expect. It’s not a film you’re probably going to want to run out and buy, but it’s probably worth renting if you missed it in theaters.

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