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"A WALK ON THE MOON"
(1999) (Diane Lane, Liev Schreiber) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Extreme Moderate Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A woman's affair with a free-spirited blouse salesman threatens her marriage and relationship with her family during the summer of 1969.
PLOT:
It's the summer of 1969 and Pearl (DIANE LANE) and Marty Kantrowitz (LIEV SCHREIBER) have taken their kids, Alison (ANNA PAQUIN) and Danny (BOBBY BORIELLO), along with Marty's mother, "Bubbie" (TOVAH FELDSHUH) to the Catskill Mountains for their usual summer retreat.

Married at a young age due to an unexpected pregnancy, thirty-year-old Pearl outwardly seems content with her life, but inwardly feels that she's missed out on many things. That point is exacerbated by Marty's need to repeatedly return to the city during the week to work as a TV repairman, thus leaving her with little to do other than hang out with the other wives.

Things change, however, when she meets a traveling blouse salesman, Walker Jerome (VIGGO MORTENSEN), whose free-spirited nature immediately draws her to him. Inevitably, they soon begin an affair. From that point on, and as Woodstock and man's first landing on the moon occur in the background, it's only a matter of time before others learn of the affair, forcing Pearl to choose which life she wishes to lead.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it's highly unlikely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
The reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for profanity, sexually related encounters and dialogue, and sexual and nonsexual nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DIANE LANE plays a married housewife who smokes (cigarettes and later pot) and begins an affair with another man, thus endangering her marriage and relationship with her children.
  • LIEV SCHREIBER plays the hardworking father who understandably reacts badly upon learning of the affair and cusses some in response.
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN plays the free-spirited blouse salesman who has the affair with Pearl and briefly introduces her to smoking pot.
  • ANNA PAQUIN plays Pearl and Marty's rebellious teenage daughter who tests her boundaries with them while beginning to date boys. She also cusses some in anger.
  • TOVAH FELDSHUH plays Pearl's tea-reading, fortune telling mother-in-law who does what she can to subtly put an end to the affair.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
    With man's first steps on the moon in the summer of 1969 used as a temporal and metaphorical backdrop for the drama that ensues, "A Walk on the Moon" is a solid, if slow-moving affair that borders on melodrama, but is fortunately saved -- to some degree -- by the decent performances from its talented cast.

    With a plot more akin to something of a combination of a regular daytime soap opera and a made- for-TV movie than a theatrical release, the film offers few surprises other than a questionable and -- in my opinion -- disappointing and unbelievable ending (but hey, it's Hollywood so what else can you expect?).

    Plodding along through all of the familiar trappings related to the fallout surrounding a discovered affair, the film has the right "period" feel -- the Apollo mission and Woodstock concert clearly helping in that regard, although they turn out not to be much more than plot devices -- and is familiar in many ways to the more enjoyable, lively, and somewhat similarly plotted "Dirty Dancing."

    Both concern families (one wealthy, the other working middle class) who head off to a mountain "resort" for their quaint, annual vacation. What's supposed to be a joyous, relaxing time, however, is disrupted in both by daughters who, through their coming of age metamorphoses, take on and represent an emerging, cross generational clash of cultures.

    Of course in "Dirty Dancing" Jennifer Gray's mother didn't run off with another man and that's where these two films diverge onto completely disparate paths. While this one obviously wasn't intended to be like the other -- and not to come off sounding preachy, but -- the adulterous course is what seriously harms this picture.

    Although many people nowadays seem rather blase about extramarital affairs -- unless, of course, it directly involves them -- the film and its central protagonist never recover from her actions. Yes, it's clear that she's not happy with how her life has turned out -- pregnant, married and raising a family since the age of seventeen -- and she's obviously hitting her midlife crisis two decades earlier than most.

    Nonetheless -- and despite the fact that this is a movie where something out of the ordinary must occur -- the fact that she has an affair and then wants everything to be back to normal just didn't sit well with this reviewer. Thus, I ended up despising her character ever more as the story limped along to its conclusion. While that might have been first-time director Tony Goldwyn and screenwriter Pamela Gray's intention, that doesn't exactly make for an enjoyable or entertaining movie experience.

    Fortunately for them and the film, the performances are quite strong and, for better or worse, the characters' motivation and resulting behavior are for the most part, very believable. Given the unenviable task of playing a woman who wants to straddle the fence above two sides of green grass, Diane Lane ("Murder at 1600," "Streets of Fire") gives what could be the best performance of her career. Although a major criticism of the film regards its slow tempo, that pacing does allow for Lane to let her character more fully develop, and one can easily identify, but not necessarily agree with the motivation behind her resulting actions.

    One of the more underrated and underused (in leading parts) actors working today, Liev Schreiber ("Scream," "Sphere") also delivers a great performance as the working class stiff who works like a dog to support his family. Playing out an interesting contrast to Lane's character -- where he's accepted his "destiny" while she still longs for sewing her oats -- Schreiber is nothing less than completely believable and easily manages to create an entirely sympathetic character.

    Equally as good is Anna Paquin ("Fly Away Home" and an Oscar winner for "The Piano") as the rebellious daughter whose beckoning freedom mirrors her mother's similar desires to break free of her own confines. While Paquin could have easily played the typical rebellious teen without much difficulty, she brings nice subtleties to her character that also make her performance quite believable.

    Viggo "The Other Man" Mortensen ("G.I. Jane") -- who will soon be typecast, if he's not careful, as the "marriage buster" after this film and last year's "A Perfect Murder" -- ably delivers what's needed from his mostly stereotypical character. Although his "wear it on your sleeves" sexuality and free-spiritedness are present solely as a catalytic plot device for Pearl to act upon, it would have been nice, however, had his character been a bit more developed.

    Although the film comes off mostly sounding like a downer, Goldwyn and Gray have wisely interspersed the film with some much needed comic relief -- in the form of what sounds like Julie Kavner as the "resort's" ever present P.A. announcer, and Tovah Feldshuh as Pearl's self- proclaimed clairvoyant mother-in-law -- both of which at least make this bitter pill a bit easier to swallow.

    Despite the good performances and generally well-developed characters, the film isn't that enjoyable simply because of the subject matter and the fact that the protagonist -- the person whose job is to take us by the hand and lead us through her journey -- comes off as an unlikable person, no matter her dashed dreams and missed opportunities.

    Films like this have a hard enough time succeeding without the audience coming to despise the central character -- a person we initially liked -- and that turns out to be a large flaw for this one. As such, we give "A Walk on the Moon" just a 4.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Several steamy, sexual encounters and some sexual and nonsexual nudity (the latter of which includes female full frontal), along with some related discussions, earn that category an extreme rating. Profanity is also extreme with 12 "f" words and other words, phrases and religious expressions.

    A married mother has an affair that sets off an extreme amount of tense family scenes, with everyone upset and the kids wondering if the parents will get divorced, while a teenage girl becomes rebellious because of that and from her beginning to date. A few scenes also include pot smoking, while regular smoking and drinking also occur.

    Although it's unclear just how many kids will want to see this picture, you may want to take a closer look at the listed content should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • One of Pearl's friends says that they need to watch out for their kids smoking marijuana.
  • Walker offers Pearl a beer.
  • People have drinks at a nightclub-type performance.
  • Walker smokes a joint and then hands it to Pearl who takes a hit.
  • Marty brings drinks for himself and Pearl and she comments that they're "strong."
  • People smoke joints and drink what's presumably liquor of some sort from large jugs while attending Woodstock (Walker among them).
  • We see some empty beer bottles on Marty's table.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Alison calls for Bubbie to come to her, and we then see the teenager with her panties pulled down to show that she just got her period (but we don't see any nudity).
  • Marty has a bloody nose after another man punches him for kissing his wife.
  • We see some swollen bee sting areas on Danny's body after he's been repeatedly stung.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Pearl obviously has extreme cases of both for carrying on an affair with another man.
  • Alison has the often standard rebellious attitude of a young teenage girl. She also makes fun of another girl by asking a third girl if the first is wearing a wig.
  • Some viewers (who are offended by dealings with "the occult") may not like the fact that Bubbie is a fortune teller who reads tea leaves in the line of her "hobby."
  • "Bubbie" briefly mentions her husband leaving her and their kids in the past.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • The scenes detailing marital strife may be unsettling to some viewers.
  • Danny throws rocks a bee's nest and we then see that he's been severely stung (and everyone races to help him).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Toy guns: Worn/carried by Danny as well as by Marty in a later scene.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Screw/Screwing" and "Stooping" (sexual), "Whore," "Screwed up" and "Shut up."
  • Some adults go skinny-dipping.
  • Alison sneaks off to attend a concert and isn't punished.
  • Since everything turns out okay in the end, some kids may get the idea that cheating (having an affair) isn't such a bad thing.
  • Danny throws rocks a bee's nest (and is then stung).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 12 "f" words, 7 slang terms for the sexual use of the "f" word ("screw/screwing" and "stooping"), 3 "s" words, 3 hells, 1 S.O.B., and 4 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Oh my God," "God," "Oh God" and "Jesus" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A woman walks by in a small, high-cut bikini that shows cleavage and part of the side of her bare butt.
  • As Alison wears a bikini-like top, her brother shouts out, "I see Alison's nipples!" (but we don't).
  • One of Pearl's friends says that they need to watch out for their kids smoking marijuana, and that the teens will then get "ants in their pants and want to screw everything in sight."
  • Using the word "chuck" as a replacement for the sexual use of the "f" word (used because it rhymes with it) and while on their bed, Pearl tells Marty, "I was thinking maybe we could do chuck a different way...maybe we can experiment." He replies that he thinks they were "doing chuck pretty good the old way." She then says that she thought it would be fun, he asks what she has in mind, but she doesn't know. He then leaves for a moment and then returns, playfully wearing his son's toy gun and holster set. While we don't see anything else (beyond both on top of each other clothed), it's suggested that they have sex.
  • Alison calls for Bubbie to come to her, and we then see the teenager with her panties pulled down (to show that she just got her period) but we don't see any nudity.
  • A friend of Pearl's shows some cleavage.
  • We see Pearl in her bra (cleavage) and underwear as she's trying on clothes.
  • In a very sensuous scene with lots of heavy breathing, Walker begins nuzzling Pearl on the neck, and eventually runs his hands up under her blouse, and then down inside her underwear. They then kiss and lie down on the floor of his bus where we see him pull off her pants (no nudity), hear him unzip his pants (still no nudity) and then get on top of her and have sex (we see her pleasured expression, as well as some movement in this head and shoulders only shot). We then see her having sex on his lap with movement and sexual sounds. She then asks "What are you doing?" as he moves down her body to perform oral sex (not seen, although her expression is).
  • Alison asks her girlfriend if she's ever "tongue kissed" before. When that friend asks Alison if she and her "boyfriend" did anything else, Alison responds, "Not yet."
  • We see Walker and Pearl having sex outdoors and under a waterfall where we see his bare butt between her legs (as well as movement seen from a distance and then from closer) as they have sex while standing up. As this minute or so scene continues, we see more movement as well as views of her bare breasts.
  • "Bubbie" asks Pearl if she's "stooping" someone, and then states, "You're 'stooping' the God- damn blouse man."
  • We learn that Marty got Pearl pregnant the first time she ever had sex (and at the age of seventeen).
  • We see Marty and Pearl making out in a parked car (in the present) and trying to move into the backseat (without hurting themselves), but we don't know if anything else happens.
  • A woman in a one-piece bathing suit shows some cleavage.
  • We see two adult skinny-dippers (a man and woman) who both show rear nudity while we also briefly see full frontal female nudity.
  • We see Pearl's bare breasts at Woodstock.
  • Marty asks Pearl, "Are you screwing someone?" and she finally admits that she is, causing him to say, "You're screwing the blouse man?" Why don't you screw the dress man? At least you'd get a whole outfit."
  • Upset at her family falling apart, Alison tells her boyfriend, "Let's do it. Let's go all of the way." When he shows reluctance, she asks, "Don't you want to?" and then runs away.
  • Alison then lies to her mother and says that she went "all the way" with her boyfriend, causing Pearl to ask if they used protection. Alison then admits that they only went to first base. Pearl then tells her to "save the home run" for someone really special.
  • SMOKING
  • Pearl smokes several times, as does a friend of hers, while Walker smokes once (after earlier commenting that he had quit).
  • Other miscellaneous characters smoke in various other scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Obviously, Pearl's affair puts an extreme amount of tension on her marriage and family, causing all of them to be quite upset. At one moment, Marty returns and grabs his sleeping son and Alison and tries to put them in his car to take them away, resulting in everyone being very upset. Later, Alison asks if they're going to get a divorce.
  • Before and during then, some sparks fly between Alison and her parents as she enters her teenage rebellious years, and Alison's later upset when she learns (and thinks) that she was an "accident."
  • Walker briefly mentions that his soldier brother has been missing for quite some time in Asia.
  • "Bubbie" briefly mentions her husband leaving her and their kids in the past.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • People who have affairs and whether their spouses and/or children should forgive them for that.
  • Since everything turns out okay in the end, some kids may get the idea that cheating (having an affair) isn't such a bad thing.
  • Teens who want to begin dating and parent/teen relationships in general.
  • The historical events (the first moonwalk and Woodstock) that are backdrops for this story.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Following her family's tradition, Bubbie slaps Alison upon learning that the teenager has just gotten her period, which causes Alison to slap her back after learning that's what her grandmother did to her relatives under the same circumstances.
  • Upon learning of his wife's affair, Marty violently throws a milk cartoon against a wall.
  • Moments later, and after grabbing another man's wife and kissing her, that man punches Marty in the nose.
  • Pearl smacks Alison after she curses at her mother (after learning of her mother's affair).



  • Reviewed March 1, 1999 / Posted April 2, 1999

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