Reviewed by Colin Jacobson
Columbia-TriStar, widescreen 1.85:1, standard 1.33:1, languages: English Digital Stereo, subtitles: English, Spanish, French, double side-single layer, 28 chapters, Production Notes, rated R, 106 min., $24.95, street date 4/18/2000.
Directed by Zalman King. Starring Sherilyn Fenn, Richard Tyson, Louise Fletcher, Burl Ives, Kristy McNichol.
Sparks ignite into flames of passion when a socialite meets a sensual stranger in Two Moon Junction, an erotic adult drama from director Zalman King (Nine 1/2 Weeks, TV's "Red Shoe Diaries") that features "some of the steamiest sex scenes this side of an X rating" (David Sheehan, KNBC).
Nothing like a little hot soft-porn action, and that's a good thing, because Two Moon Junction is absolutely nothing like a little hot soft-porn action. I've seen worse films, though none come to mind at the moment; this sucker really stinks.
Where to start? The film tells the story of sexy Southern belle April (Sherilyn Fenn), a prim and proper sorority babe who is about to marry handsome but (apparently) dull Chad (Martin Hewett). When the circus comes to town, she spies hunky worker Perry (Richard Tyson) and pretty quickly sets to doing the deed with him. Eventually - although Perry seems to be a complete prick and we never actually learn anything legitimately bad about Chad, who appears totally devoted to April - she abandons her future life as a lawyer's wife and hits the road with the shirtless hunk.
No, I won't fault TMJ for a lack of realism. Hey, who's to say prissy babes don't trash their lives to run off with guys who look like Chippendales dancers everyday? However, I will criticize TMJ for being a thoroughly dull and silly affair.
Not one aspect of this film works. The characters are thin and lifeless and poorly acted to boot. If any of them were likable or engaging, I missed them. Although I must note that TMJ boasts one of the most bizarre casts in the history of film. Here we find Burl Ives, Herve Villechaize, Kristy McNichol - topless to boot! - Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher and, in her movie debut, a very young Milla Jovovich. How can a film that presents that insane combination turn out so dull?
That's a mystery for the ages, but TMJ indeed falls flat in all ways. The plot barely exists; the brief summation I provided may make things seem more action-packed than they are, for much of the film equals the proverbial drying paint. April and Chad fight, then they screw, then they argue, then they bone - lather, rinse, repeat.
Now I understand that many of you may not care about TMJ's faults as a film, since the main purpose of the piece is to see some fine boot-knocking action. After all, no one complained about the lack of character development in Deliveries In the Rear.
If the sex scenes actually were steamy, or if at least we found enough good skin to redeem the project, then I could forgive the film's sins. However, nothing I saw here warranted much of a reaction. TMJ is essentially a romance novel come to the screen, and as such, we aren't going to find anything other than dimly-lit, gauzy scenes of "passion". At the risk of sounding sexist, this is the kind of thing that might appeal to women, but men probably won't find it terribly stimulating. We see a decent shot or two of Fenn, but nothing very compelling.
Actually, I think Two Moon Junction really is a soft-core porno aimed at women. Clearly the action takes place from the woman's point of view and indulges a female fantasy, though I suppose some carnies might have been buoyed by the film's indication that they too can bag hot, rich babes. Maybe women will find something to like here, but I certainly couldn't. Two Moon Junction is a complete dog.
Two Moon Junction appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen edition on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the letterboxed image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the widescreen version was reviewed for this article, though I did check out the fullscreen side in the interest of, um, research. From what I could tell, it seems to be a full-frame transfer, which means that more image is revealed at the top and bottom of the screen and nothing disappears from the sides. As such, you may see a little more of Sherilyn's Fenn on side "B" of the DVD.
Overall, the quality of the image seems adequate but suffers from the gauzy photography. Sharpness can appear quite crisp at times, but that soft, "sexy" look they shoot for can gum up the works; much of the film seems some what hazy and flat. To be frank, it was difficult to tell how much of this came from the director's intent and how much stemmed from bad filmmaking; I'd guess it's a balance of the two.
Moiré effects aren't a problem, and I only saw a few instances of jagged edges. Artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV popped up on occasion but generally weren't an issue. The print itself appeared a bit gritty much of the time but I discerned no evidence of significant flaws such as scratches, hairs, speckles or tears.
Colors varied because of the somewhat washed-out photography - lots of dappled sunlight here - but they generally looked reasonably accurate and well-saturated; the carnival scenes clearly present the brightest and boldest hues. Like much of the rest of the picture, black levels seemed adequate though slightly bland, and shadow detail was fairly appropriate. The soft, gauzy nature of the production makes it look worse than it should, but overall, the picture seemed decent.
Less satisfying is the Dolby Surround soundtrack of TMJ. Actually, I'm not completely clear what sort of mix this is supposed to be. The DVD's case claims it's stereo, but my receiver thought it was Dolby Surround. My ears, on the other hand, heard nothing but mono - if any activity came from speakers other than the center, the soundtrack kept it well-hidden.
While a monaural mix is decided low-tech for a film from 1988, I could forgive that lack of depth if the sound quality didn't seem so terrible. Dialogue was generally intelligible but appeared thin and reedy, with a fair amount of the speech poorly dubbed. Effects were weak and hollow, and the moronic synthesizer score sounded harsh and shrill. I also occasionally heard tape hiss, something I never thought I'd discern from a 12-year-old movie. Admittedly, no one watches this tripe to experience an exciting aural show, but they could have done better than this unpleasant mix.
In regard to supplemental features, we find almost nothing here. In fact, all that stands between TMJ and an "F" rating for extras is one page of dull text production notes in the DVD's booklet. No, that's not much, but I only give "F"s to DVDs that include absolutely no supplements; even the most token bonus gets at least a "D-". Just note that this is the weakest "D-" I've yet given.
I guess that's appropriate, because Two Moon Junction is weak in so many ways. The film itself is an almost total disaster, marred by a nonexistent plot, terrible dialogue and characters, poor dialogue and not even any truly steamy action. The DVD offers an adequate but bland picture but presents shrill and harsh sound and virtually no supplements. Stay far, far away from this clunker.
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