Paper Moon

Rated: PG

          Paper Moon is one of those movies I’ve been meaning to see for a long time. It’s been referenced in other movies and on TV countless times, and yet I still had no idea what it was about! The reference that sticks out the most in my head is one made on The Simpsons in the episode “The Great Money Caper”. In it Homer and Bart tell Ned Flanders that his wife ordered him a special bible before she died, but never paid for it. Ned then says “this seems an awful lot like a scene from Paper Moon”.  I try my hardest to see every movie referenced by The Simpsons, since if they reference it, it has to be good (or at least worth seeing). And so, one night, as I glanced through the list of movies offered by my on-demand and saw that Paper Moon was available, I knew I had to watch it.
         Set during the Great Depression, a grifter begrudgingly agrees to take a young orphan to her aunt’s house. As he pauses their journey to con people it becomes more and more uncertain who the better con artist really is, the veteran grifter or the young orphan?
        Despite being referenced all the time, I didn’t think this movie would be that good. There have been plenty of other movies that I’ve seen that have been referenced over and over again that were absolutely awful (
Midnight Cowboy comes to mind). But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Paper Moon is an entertaining, funny, delightful and refreshingly satisfying film that does not disappoint.

        Ryan O’Neal is billed as the star, but I think his daughter Tatum (who at the time was 9) stole the show in this, her acting debut. Tatum, who plays Addie, delivers her lines so skillfully and with such wit that she took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1974, making her the youngest person to ever win an Oscar. She adds depth and heart to a character that could’ve easily been played as cute, annoying or bratty, if it were anyone else in the role. Instead we get a character that’s intelligent, quick-witted and keen, which of course makes for a far better movie. Not to mention that if it were anyone other than Tatum in the role of Addie I don’t think the chemistry and the back and forth between Addie and Moses (played by Ryan) would’ve flowed as well or have been so believable.

        Unfortunately the relationship between Ryan and Tatum O’Neal through the years has been strained at best. There have been numerous estrangements, drug addiction, physical abuse allegations and more, leaving many fans to wonder if they’ll ever set aside their differences and mend fences. As far as I could find they’re currently on speaking terms, but with such a rocky history who knows how long that will last!

        But, off-screen drama aside, I encourage you all to see this film. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Paper Moon is rated PG, was directed by Peter Bogdanovich and stars Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. It is available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.