Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In this movie ‘Moonlight Serenade’ we meet the character of Nate (Alec Newman) who is a high flying corporate stock broker, but his true passion is playing the classics on his eighty eight. After a hard days work raking in money doing short sales or short ends or mass fatalities or some kind of fancy stock broker talk that I couldn’t wrap my brain around, Nate likes to chill at the cool breeze club run by his boy Frank (Joey DeFrancesco). If Nate were the observant type he would’ve spied the cute as a button red haired green eyed coat check girl at Frank’s club but Joey obviously isn’t the observant type because I peeped that out almost immediately. Can’t slip much past me.

One night after a tough evening of number crunching, or whatever stock brokers do, Nate is winding down with a drink (Nate drinks an awful lot) and a sit down at the grand delivering us his rendition of ‘When I Fall in Love’. It just so happens as Nate was tickling the ivories on this cut, some random silky voiced woman was walking outside, heard the music and now we have a little impromptu duet. "Who was the woman" Nate would wonder. He rushes outside to try to find her but alas the only thing left behind, Cinderella style, was a fake piece of ruby costume jewelry.

Of course this piece of ugly costume jewelry, in addition to that silky smooth voice belongs to the red haired coat check girl who we will get to know as Chloe (Amy Adams). Eventually Nate and Chloe get acquainted, though not surprisingly it is a rocky start to being with. Our future star crossed, musically enhanced lovers do have some issues to deal with. Nate for instance has to deal with his asshole boss, Nate himself is kind of a jerk, he still hasn’t recovered from the death of his mom which has prompted him to keep his prodigious musical skills under wraps, though his longtime assistant and family friend Angelica (Harriet Sanson Harris) attempts to keep the boy

on the straight and narrow. Even though he’s a complete jerk to her most of the time. Chloe’s issues are also formidable as she too is kind of a jerk, is in love with a strung out junkie who she foolishly relies on to be her piano man and help her leave her coat checking career and become a jazz singer. If I knew Chloe I would inform Chloe, through personal experience, that junkies have a real difficult time making scheduled appointments.

But eventually, as expected, the two meet a common ground. At first it was just to play some music then it was to play some love. Also as expected love is strained to the breaking point as everything goes straight to hell leaving us to wonder if Nate and Chloe will ever be able to make sweet musical love again.

Directed and co-written by Giancarlo Tallarico ‘Moonlight Serenade’ has all kinds of issues, just like Chloe and Nate have issues, as a work of cinema. One of these issues would not be music that’s being played in this movie. While Joey DeFrancesco admirably played the character of Frank the club owner his main purpose in this movie was serving as its music director and this is a task Mr. DeFancesco handled with aplomb. Obviously it helps to be a fan of this particular style of music of which I happen to be a huge fan. I’ve been playing piano almost my whole life, though I suck at it, and I would gladly trade one of my brother’s kidneys for the talent to play piano like Mr. DeFrancesco plays the piano. This movie was also instrumental in introducing me to the wonderful voice of beautiful songstress Khani Cole whose latest album I am in the process of downloading from Amazon even as I type this.

But alas while the music in ‘Moonlight Serenade’ is great, we normally rely on music to enhance a movie not to make a movie and even the fine musical score in this movie could save this movie. Putting aside the somewhat overall student film look of the movie and the oftimes overwhelming heaps of disconnected melodrama that we had to endure in watching this film, and believe me all of that was difficult to put aside, the main issue I had with the movie was the ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ soap opera style dialog that we had to endure throughout the movie. At first I was considering the option, that since the music is from a bygone era, perhaps the filmmakers are shooting for a dialog style that also comes from that bygone era but even the worst picture coming out of RKO sounded better than this.

One of the draws of this movie and one of the reasons that it’s surfaced after being on the shelf for a number of years is the presence of Amy Adams who has ‘blown up’ as they say and I would imagine fans of hers will be pleased as she was just fine in this movie, minus a little bit of makeup, but she does has a fine singing voice, though I probably wouldn’t have led off the movie Khani Cole which set a rather high standard for female vocals.

The effort was there in ‘Moonlight Serenade’ and I really did want to like this movie but the execution was lacking. Check it out for the music or buy the soundtrack if it happens to be available.

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