By: Addison Wylie
Road movies have been done so many times, that they’ve now evolved into their own genre. They follow a similar formula, a straightforward plot, and feature a lot of robust side characters but grounded leads.
With any frequent genre, it’s not so much how common those notes are but how the musician plays them. With Moon Point, an independently made Canadian feature, Director Sean Cisterna takes a heartfelt script that has an element of familiarity and is able to create an impacting little-movie-that-could.
Darryl, played by Nick McKinlay, feels like a bump on a log and is being pushed around by an overbearing family. Instead of being supportive and reminding Darryl of what he could do with his life, Darryl’s family often reminds him of what he hasn’t done. This causes him to to spend more and more time with his best friend Femur, played by Kyle Mac.
The biggest worry on Darryl’s mind is that he has no date for his cousin’s wedding. All of a sudden, a segment flashes on television about a Horror movie being shot nearby , and his childhood crush is starring in a lead role. When Darryl sees that the segment is promoting an open call for extras, he seizes the opportunity. He must meet back up with Sarah Cherry, played by Kristen Gutoskie.
Because of his lack of transportation, Darryl convinces Femur that they should both take the trek on Femur’s motorized wheelchair. Along the way, the friends meet up with many interesting personalities including a damsel in distress named Kristin, played by Paula Brancati.
Moon Point works really well all thanks to its good natured charm. Darryl, Femur, and Kristin have all been perfectly cast and their chemistry lights up any situation. Any audience member would believe that not only do these actors work well off one another on screen but they’re probably good friends off-camera as well. Hell, maybe this experience helped them build strong friendships among each other. The leads all have terrific timing and are able to execute quips and dramatic dialogue without breaking a sweat.
Even the flashbacks have strong actors. Child actors Camden Angelis and Noah Ryan Scott are able to make us believe that they are younger versions of Sarah and Darryl and the two are very cute together. Even when the kids have been given funny exchanges, the lines and reactions are never contrived. However, I’m sure some thanks goes to Cisterna and his ability to direct child actors.
Along with the great chemistry, the script written by Robert Lazar and Cisterna’s direction has plenty of sweetness as well. The script often beams autobiographical which, I suppose, is how Lazar was able to write true emotions and a sarcastic tone to McKinlay’s role. Like with the flashbacks, the dialogue between the three leads as they drive from one location to the next, never feels fake. It’s these scenes that I appreciated the most because no one behind or in front of the camera was trying to push any feelings onto the audience. The natural readings from the actors paired up with Cisterna’s modest direction makes for a pleasant time at the movies.
However, Lazar’s script may be amiable but there are parts that could’ve been improved. Some of the coarse and rude language sticks out like a sore thumb and I wish Lazar steered clear of that crassness. The film works so much better when it’s dealing with life lessons in an innocent but not totally ignorant way.
Some one liners felt too snarky for the scene they were embodying. The one joke that didn’t sit well with me is one that’ll be tough to describe without giving spoilers. It was in a scene where we learn about Femur’s parents in a passionate speech given by Mac (which, I’m sure, will go on the actor’s demo reel). However, just after the emotion filled dialogue, Darryl bribes a troubled someone using a substance that Femur was referring to a lot in his speech and it’s played for laughs. It almost nullifies the emotional bedrock Mac was building. Almost.
Some of the outrageous side characters that enter the film could’ve been toned down a bit too. At one point, the wheelchair troupe spends the night at a rickety hotel. It’s owned by a shady man. This new character is able to make us laugh at first but the more he’s on screen, the more he overstays his welcome. The more he overstays, the more ludicrous he gets.
The wackiness of the supporting characters fall victim to this flaw but Lazar has spiced up his script with plenty of twists and turns and sometimes is able to save these bizarre people. For instance, Christian Potenza plays a crazed karaoke singer who becomes unrealistic fast. However, Lazar has added a neat little twist that caps off this character nicely and makes us laugh a lot.
Unlike Darryl’s family, we don’t remember the movie for its problems. We remember what it excelled at. You’ll remember the resonating emotion and how the actors handled the material. We’ll keep in mind just how stress-free the direction and the writing was and how they both easily executed compassion. Most important though, you’ll want to spread the word and wish good business for this wonderful film.