Reese Witherspoon and Jason London star in Robert Mulligan’s “The Man in the Moon.”

As a film instructor, I’m often asked what my favorite films are. Frankly, I don’t have a favorite, but I do have a pretty short list of movies that I consider to be important contributions to the art form, and in some cases nearly flawless.
“The Man in the Moon” is on that list.
I consider it to be the finest film in the “coming of age” genre, and deeply appreciate how director Robert Mulligan, screenwriter Jenny Wingfield and composer James Newton Howard treat the subject matter and the teenage characters. Far too often, teenagers are portrayed on screen as idiotic, hormone-driven, sociopathic morons – or worse. My experience tells me that teens are wonderfully complex, intellectual, curious, emotional, naive, passionate people – much like Marueen, Dani and Court in this film. It’s truly a tribute to Mulligan, Wingfield and Howard that these teenage characters are not trivialized in any way. It’s equally important to honor the performances of Reese Witherspoon (Dani), Emily Warfield (Maureen) and Jason London (Court), each of whom brings a strong, honest presence to these dynamic characters.
Much like Shakespeare accomplished in “Romeo and Juliet,” Robert Mulligan’s “The Man in the Moon” addresses serious adult themes through the intense life experiences of teenagers.
Here are a few more links to help you along:
Adrian Martin’s Review
Robert Mulligan’s obituary
Roger Ebert’s review
New York Times’ review