Pontiac Moon

  • 1994
  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Cloying and implausible, PONTIAC MOON is nostalgic road movie that celebrates family values through a tale of father-son bonding on the eve of the Apollo XI moon launch. The only surprise to be found in this big-screen sitcom is the participation of Peter Medak, director of such remarkable films as THE KRAYS, LET HIM HAVE IT, and THE RULING CLASS. Encouraging...read more

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Cloying and implausible, PONTIAC MOON is nostalgic road movie that celebrates family values through a tale of father-son bonding on the eve of the Apollo XI moon launch. The only surprise to be found in this big-screen sitcom is the participation of Peter Medak, director of such remarkable

films as THE KRAYS, LET HIM HAVE IT, and THE RULING CLASS.

Encouraging his impressionable son Andy (Ryan Todd) to reach for the stars, elementary school teacher Washington Bellamy (Ted Danson) plots out a once-in-a-lifetime trip on the eve of the first moon landing. Washington's plan is to drive the distance between Earth and the moon in his classic

Pontiac, ending up at a rock formation in Idaho known as Spires of the Moon. His agoraphobic wife, Katherine (Mary Steenburgen), traumatized by a traffic accident seven years ago, refuses to join the trip. So father and son hit the road, tangling with rednecks and picking up a Native American

traveling companion, a soldier named Ernest (Eric Schweig). Concurrently, Katherine senses that Andy needs her and invokes her inner strength to venture outdoors, driving her husband's prized amphibian car in order to catch up with them. In a roadside bar, Washington flirts with a floozie,

Lorraine (Cathy Moriarty), until Andy's pet snake interferes. Later, during a sojourn at a commune, Andy overhears his dad revealing that Katherine miscarried a baby daughter after her traffic accident; later, the boy angrily confronts Washington about keeping this secret. A nervous Katherine runs

into Lorraine, who cheers her up with the news of Washington's fidelity. Meanwhile, the Pontiac conks out, and Washington steals an expensive retooled engine in order to complete his quest, thus inviting police intervention just as the Apollo craft nears touchdown. Washington surrenders, but Andy

scoots off in the Pontiac. After he catches up to his son, Washington takes over the wheel and the two finish their journey by driving into a crater at the exact moment that the Apollo astronauts land. Katherine finally arrives, and a reunited Bellamy family eludes the police by driving the

amphibian vehicle into a lake.

This dreary comedy shoots for the moon but covers very little emotional distance. To the movie's credit, the Bellamys are not the stock dysfunctional family of so many recent Hollywood comedies; at times, in fact, they're distinctly weird. But their quirks don't lead anywhere, and their

eccentricity becomes the raison d'etre, with everyone defined and explained by a single all-purpose neurosis. As the hippie-ish science teacher, Danson gives a fatuous performance, sometimes eerily reminiscent of Snagglepuss doing Cyrano. Steenburgen, a subtly gifted actress who has been

repeatedly wasted by Hollywood, somehow manages to flesh out a skeletal role. In any case, the actors are sandbagged by the script, and the luminously photographed landscapes can't create the requisite awe merely by intercutting stock footage of the Apollo mission with the Bellamys' wanderings

through the heartland. For a road comedy that's always on the go, PONTIAC MOON feels oddly immobile; it certainly doesn't move the viewer. (Violence, profanity, adult situations, substance abuse.)

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  • Released: 1994
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: Cloying and implausible, PONTIAC MOON is nostalgic road movie that celebrates family values through a tale of father-son bonding on the eve of the Apollo XI moon launch. The only surprise to be found in this big-screen sitcom is the participation of Peter… (more)

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