MOVIE REVIEW : 'Moon' Goes for the Heart--and Misses

The little Canadian film, "Crazy Moon" (selected theaters) is well-meaning, decently intentioned, largely nonviolent. It's heart is on the side of young love, unconventional behavior and the physically handicapped. It's a movie that wants to summon up a wistful by-gone time of sweet, dippy elegance and gentle passion--and it has a nifty little sound track of dance band oldies from the pre-Swing era. The leading performances by Kiefer Sutherland and Vanessa Vaughn are often winning and sensitive. Why couldn't we like it more?

"Crazy Moon's" plot is a mishmash of "Harold and Maude" (the gentle, eccentric rich boy acts weird and battles mean, overly stylized relatives) and "Children of a Lesser God" (convention-defying love with a plucky, beautiful deaf girl). In both cases, the movie seems to be arching over backwards, and nearly capsizing, to capture your heart.

The movie shows us odd boy out Brooksie (Sutherland), trying to dreamily evade his obnoxious family: a father stiff as concrete, a neurotic stepmother and a psychopathic older brother who keeps cocaine in Brooksie's bedroom. He avoids them by immersing himself in oddball art and artifacts--particularly mannequins, motorcycles and bubbly dance hall ballads like "Boo Hoo (You've Got Me Cryin' for You)." Defying convention and family, he woos a deaf shop girl (Vanessa Vaughn), following her on her cycle, mooning crazily around her doorstep, and finally gamboling with her in the Canadian sunlight.

"Crazy Moon" coos, clings and cloys. Its emotions seem barely genuine. Its jokes wink too much, and its plot twists are like a thumbed-over road map. There are moments of offbeat humor and sweetness--but only moments.

The hearts of the writers (Tom Berry and Stefan Wodoslawsky) and director (Allan Eastman) don't seem crazy or moony enough to carry their dream. And they rely a little too much on "Boo Hoo."

'CRAZY MOON' A Miramax Films release of an Allegro Films/National Film Board of Canada co-production. Producers Tom Berry, Stefan Wodoslawsky. Director Allan Eastman. Camera Savas Kalogeras. Production design Guy Lalande. Editor Franco Battista. Music Lou Forestieri and Rational Youth. With Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Vaughn, Peter Spence.

Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes.

MPAA rating: PG-13 (parents are strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13).

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