“Serious Moonlight”: Black comedy never comes to life

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Friday, December 11, 2009 12:01am
  • Life

“Serious Moonlight” is a strange postscript to the career of Adrienne Shelly, the delightful actress-filmmaker who was killed by an intruder in her New York apartment in 2006.

At the time of her death, Shelly had just completed directing “Waitress,” a rather wonderful little comedy. Some friends and colleagues found Shelly’s original script for “Serious Moonlight” and decided to make the film according to her plans.

Here it is, and it’s the kind of peculiar project that many writers might have kept stashed away in the back of the desk drawer for a reason. It sounds interesting enough on paper, but watching it play out gets to be a chore.

At a country house, Ian (Timothy Hutton) is surprised by the early arrival of his wife, Louise (Meg Ryan). This is because he’s expecting his much younger mistress Sara (Kristen Bell) to walk through the door instead.

As Louise learns the truth, she takes drastic measures to save the marriage. Banging Ian in the head and duct-taping him to a chair, for instance.

At some point Sara is going to show up, which adds a bit of suspense to the mix. Less expected is the arrival of a thief (Justin Long), who gets the upper hand and decides to linger in the house for a while.

Black comedy can be a worthwhile goal, but this movie’s sideways approach doesn’t ignite. The idea’s a little too weird and the style is a little too flat to convince.

Strangely, as bizarre as it is, “Serious Moonlight” comes in a kind of tradition of similar titles: Pedro Almodovar’s “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”, for instance, was in the same ballpark, and “The Ref” worked a variation on a married couple getting tied up together.

The film is directed by Cheryl Hines, the funny “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress. She played a role in “Waitress” and took this project on as her first directing effort. Whatever her talents as director are, they seem defeated by the concept.

Meg Ryan seems miscast in the central role, but Timothy Hutton, whose career has wandered around for quite a few years now, actually gets a chance to act for what seems like the first time in a long time. He comes through with a strong, frustrated performance — probably the most memorable element to linger from this oddball thing.

“Serious Moonlight”

A completed script by the late filmmaker Adrienne Shelly is brought to life and it’s a weird one: A wronged wife (Meg Ryan) duct-tapes her hubby (Timothy Hutton) to a chair, hoping to win back his love. The black comedy doesn’t ignite, although Hutton gives a strong performance.

Rated: R for language, subject matter

Showing: Varsity

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Caption: The 12 week Edmonds Community Police Academy was a free opportunity for private citizens to learn about law enforcement.
An inside look at how law enforcement works

A pregnant mother. A man who rescues abused horses and donkeys. A… Continue reading

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

So-called relaxing summer vacations can wear you out

To truly enjoy a family getaway, tone down your expectations. Everything won’t be picture-perfect.

Gimmelwald, built in an avalanche zone, yet specializing in alpine tranquility.
Roaming the Alps brings cultural insights along with the views

The Swiss have great respect for Alpine traditions and culture — and contempt for tourists who disrespect both.

Will TripMate cover costs for trip canceled for medical reasons?

After Stanley Wales cancels his diving trip to Bonaire, he files a travel insurance claim with TripMate. What’s taking them so long to respond?

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Most Read