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Film / The Man in the Moon

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"Remember when you couldn't wait for your life to begin... and then, one day, it did?"

A 1991 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Robert Mulligan.

In rural Louisiana in the summer of 1957, 14-year-old Danielle "Dani" Trant (Reese Witherspoon, in her film debut) burgeons into womanhood while growing up with her rigid, old-school father Matthew (Sam Waterston); her mom Abby (Tess Harper), who's pregnant for the fourth time; and her oldest sister Maureen (Emily Warfield), who's spending her last summer at home before leaving for college in the fall.

Dani's life changes when she meets 17-year-old Court Foster (Jason London), who just moved back along with his widowed mother Marie (Gail Strickland) and twin brothers, and falls in love with him. Soon her summer of first love turns tragic and her life changes.

Not to be confused with the trope of the same name.


This film provides examples of:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Dani is 14 years old and Court is 17.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Court's twin brothers Dennis and Rob might count as this.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Cool Big Sis: Maureen in most scenes, even teaching Dani to kiss.
  • Disappeared Dad: Court's father's died in an oil rig explosion sometime before moving back.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Matt beats Dani with a belt when she comes home in the middle of the night after going swimming with Court, only to later apologize by saying he did so out of fear for Abby dying of childbirth compications.
  • Deep South
  • The '50s: The movie takes place in 1957.
  • First Love: Court to Dani
  • Jerkass: Billy Sanders especially when he tries to take advantage of Maureen.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Dani
  • Naked First Impression: Happens when Court sees Dani swimming in his family's pond.
  • Advertisement:
  • Overprotective Dad: Matt, to a fault
  • Sibling Triangle: Dani and Maureen are both in love with Court up until his death.
  • Skinny Dipping: Dani does this after church as a way of getting out of doing chores.
  • Tearjerker: Court becomes gravely injured after falling out of his tractor and dies shortly after.
  • Title Drop: In the opening scene when Maureen reminisces about their mom telling them what they should do if they have a problem:
    Maureen: Do you remember when we were little and Mama told us when things got mixed up, all you have to do is talk to the Man In The Moon?
  • Tomboy: Dani is implied as this, even questioning why she's required to wear a dress.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Court reaches for his hat which is hanging on a tree branch while standing on a moving tractor only to fall off and get run over and killed.


Example of: