Today’s Prayer Focus

Moonlight Mile

MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for some sensuality and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Ken James

Moral Rating: Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Teens Adults
Genre: Romance Drama
Length: 1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release: 2002
USA Release: October 4, 2002
USA Release:
Featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo
Director Brad Silberling
Producer Mark Johnson, Brad Silberling
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures (a division of Disney). Trademark logo.
Touchstone Pictures
, a division of Walt Disney Studios

Rarely do films try to honestly tackle hard issues like the death of a loved one. Yet that’s exactly where “Moonlight Mile” dares to tread, perhaps stemming from the personal experience Producer Brad Silberling allegedly went through in 1989 after losing his girlfriend to a random act of violence. Viewing “Moonlight Mile”, you can tell it’s not just a trite film with easy answers for those who have lost a loved one. This film brings the general populace into the heart and soul of one on the losing end, filled with do gooders who remember to call to see if you need anything, provide books on grieving, etc… with no idea that their efforts are often exactly the opposite of what is needed during a time of loss and tragedy.

Everyone believes that Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal, “October Sky”) is three days away from marrying his fiancee, daughter to Ben and JoJo Floss (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon), when the estranged husband of a waitress at the small town New England diner she was eating inadvertently kills her. The night I screened this film, I wasn’t in the mood to see a heavy drama filled with sniffling females dragging along their men. I’m glad to say I was in for a surprise. “Moonlight Mile” offers a subtle blend of humor, romance, and drama as it explores relationships reeling from suffering.

The relationship angle present here is certainly unique. Joe has moved in with his what was to be his inlaws. As their daughter was an only child, Joe awkwardly tries to fill the role of son when in reality he is not. He’s not quite sure what to do with his life at the present time, so he presses on, unsuredly feeling his way through the foginess around him. He does partner up with Ben in his commercial real estate business (as was the plan). He does stick around in his fiancee’s hometown. But the relationships he has forged become even more strained when he begins to fall in love with local girl Bertie (Ellen Pompeo) who is dealing with a loss of her own.

“Moonlight Mile” is a strong romantic drama, but is needlessly cluttered with heavy profanity (over a dozen instances of God’s name in vain) and other bad language. There is also one scene of premarital sex as Joe and Bertie end up in each other’s arms. Bare shoulders and backs was about all the nudity involved, but such reckless relationships are promoted as being okay, and even a good thing (for the sake of comfort). If it hadn’t been for those two negative factors, I would encourage many friends to see “Moonlight Mile”.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Very few movies take this realistic a look at the grieving process. I would have to disagree with a previous reviewer and say that Jake Gyllenhaal turns in an excellent performance. Finally we get to see him a little less disturbed than we have had the chance in films like Donnie Darko and The Good Girl. I see all of his movies and must say this is one of the best. Dustin Hoffman is also great, and Susan Sarandon plays a better grieving mother maybe better than anyone else I’ve seen. Each actor goes deep into the character to try and find out just what’s going on inside of them. The color was great, too. I loved the muted browns that surrounded everything. It said a lot about the mood of the work. I’d highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in a touching, funny, and sad story of love and loss.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
Donna, age 20
Positive—I found Moonlight Mile to be a thoughtful, brutally honest, secular look at grieving and moving on. There is a wonderful conversation opener in a scene where Jo-Jo (the mother) talks about people telling her they know where her daughter is. Jo-Jo says she doesn’t know where her daughter is, that she is scared for her baby, and there is nothing she can do about it now. This is a great opening for discussion about salvation.

Also, the guilt Joe feels about the secrets he is holding from his almost in-laws and the resulting focus on honesty despite the pain involved is refreshing when compared to the multitude of movies that encourage lying.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Elizabeth, age 25
Negative—I thought this was the most depressing movie I have ever seen with bad actors resting on past work. A poor script with an over relying on facial expressions. How much “bassett hound” faces can you look at in one movie. The actor who portrayed Joe Nast was dreadful totally lacking in depth. He just seemed to observing the whole time. The whole movie went on forever. Usually I like getting a lengthy movie but this was torture. and without wanting or needing God in their lives it was dreadful.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1]
Melissa, age 40
Negative—The above review is very accurate. My wife and I liked the story, but the language is very bad. The name of our Lord Jesus is taken in vain quite a few times. NOT a good movie!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 2]
A brother in Christ, age 50