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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rockwellian Facade
Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, and intelligently beautiful Elizabeth McGovern shine in their early performances in Richard Benjamin's nostalgic look at youthful romances in World War II California.
It has always struck me as ironic that Vaughn Monroe's 1941 hit tune from which this film takes its title was never played during the course of the movie.
But the title...
Published on October 15, 2004 by Deborah Earle

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars movie review
Acting was good.

Character development and how these characters interrelated particularly in what was apparently a small town was hard to understand.

Coming of age movie in the face of a war - something a lot of us can relate to.

All in all a pretty good movie.
Published 12 months ago by Stephen


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rockwellian Facade, October 15, 2004
This review is from: Racing With the Moon (DVD)
Sean Penn, Nicholas Cage, and intelligently beautiful Elizabeth McGovern shine in their early performances in Richard Benjamin's nostalgic look at youthful romances in World War II California.
It has always struck me as ironic that Vaughn Monroe's 1941 hit tune from which this film takes its title was never played during the course of the movie.
But the title does represent the fast-paced lives of two buddies headed for wartime service in the Marines, the pranks they pull, their train jumping, and the girls they encounter.
Sean Penn had one of his best roles as Henry ("Hopper") Nash, a small-town kid who works at a bowling alley and is forced to take piano lessons by his mother (Rutanya Alda). His friend Nicky (Nicholas Cage) has led a life defined by loss, as he has had to bury numerous relatives, including his parents.John Karlen was simple and straightforward as Nash's caring, gravedigger father.
The two young men live in a world that Norman Rockwell could have captured on canvas, which appears perfectly wholesome on the surface, complete with an irascible old man named Elmer (Al Hopen)who habitually whacks Henry with a cane. Presumably, the name "Elmer" was taken from the then-popular song, "Elmer's Tune". It has occured to me that the Italian shoe store owner may have been inspired by another popular Glenn Miller tune, "Papa Niccolini (The Happy Cobbler)".
As Henry acquaints himself with the beautiful newcomer to the town, Cady Winger (a role in which Elizabeth McGovern is mostly calm, serious, but pleasant) they have a magical moment playing "Heart and Soul" at the piano of an abandoned tap room. But Henry is unaware of the fact that although she lives in the large house on the hill that she is the daughter of a maid in that house and not a member of the wealthy family who own it, which causes problems in their relationship later on.
As things heat up between Nicky and his girl Sally (Suzanne Adkinson), we are slowly led into the unseemly underbelly of this Rockwellian facade. Ever since I first saw this movie, I have always felt, however that I could have come up with the name, "Cady Winger" if I'd written the script for it.
Carol Kane has a cameo as the local prostitute, Annie, Schawn Schepps plays Cady's bubbly friend and co-worker, Gretchen, Crispin Glover, a year away from success in the film, "Back to the Future" is an obnoxious rich kid who provokes Henry while he's at work, and David Madsen has a poignant solemnity in his role as the amputee, Frank.
The dark side of an era known for more conservative values reaches its nadir when Henry, Nicky, and Cady take Sally to get an illegal abortion when the irresponsible Nicky refuses to marry her. Hopper, Nicky, and Cady reach a turning point in their relationship afterwards. But soon, all is resolved, and as we watch the two rogues travel out of sight and into an unknown future, we somehow feel that they will look out for each other.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to forget and worth owning..even in VHS, June 19, 2004
By 
ABC (San Jose, CA , United States) - See all my reviews
This movie has been a long time favorite of mine though not available on DVD. The story is touching and a particulary poignant look at young men who were raised on patriotism and are headed off to war, a reality of which they know little.
The cinematography and actors make you long for young love and being caught in the rain and in more serious moments you feel the pain and peril of a illegal abortion and how cold and hard it is to dig a grave in Spring.
Elizabeth McGovern is hauntingly beautiful. Penn and Cage show the promise of talent we now consider legendary. On a telling note, Sean Penn's child shares the nickname of his character.
In contrast to another reviewer, I too see this film differently now then I did when I was younger. However, the "skin" and other adult themes added dimensions that expanded for me as I get older.
If you don't buy it at least rent it while you still can!
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trying To Out-distance Fate., December 20, 2001
Although the superficial theme of this film is young love, the heart of the film is in the subtle ways that Henry (Sean Penn) tries to come to terms with the harsh realities of his impending military service. Henry knows that, in less than a year, he will probably be on some remote Pacific island, fighting one insane Japanese soldier after another to the death. While he has no idea of the horrors to come, he definitely feels a sense of impending doom.
The movie's most telling scene is after Callie (Elizabeth McGovern) is angred by Henry & Nicky (Nicolas Cage) when they make fun of their school's emergency preparedness drill. Callie takes Henry to a veteran's hospital, where she delivers library books to soldiers recovering from amputations (and likely worse). Henry is visibly scared at the sight of these guys, not much older than he is, who will now go through life with a new, horrific perspective.
After the visit, Henry becomes angry with Callie. He shows her - and the audience - that bravado DOES have a place in dealing with impending terror, and that there are many ways to look at the complexities of war. At the end of the film, when both boys jump on the train that may take them to their deaths, the resilience of the human spirit goes with them, and they impart some of their courage to those left standing at the station. A classic film, with a timely message.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sensitive story, of life�s change, of stolen youth., April 25, 2000
I've always viewed Richard Benjamin as a sensitive, honest filmmaker. Sure, he's made some less-than-great films, but his directorial debut, "My Favorite Year" may be about the funniest film ever made.
Racing with the Moon--the boy, his friend, and the girl--a small town in the Midwest in 1942 and a few weeks before the young men are to be inducted in the service. Their lives will be changed unequivocally, and they will no longer be boys. This is all the time they have left to enjoy the freedom, the carefree wonderment that is youth.
Steven Kloves first produced script (later The Fabulous Baker Boys) is right on target with smart roles for three young stars. Sean Penn had Taps, and Fast Times behind him, and was his career was flourishing, Nick Cage had done Valley Girl, and Birdy, but would languish for ten more years, before achieving stardom, and Elizabeth McGovern, who's wonderful as Caddie Winger, is still waiting her just recognition.
Benjamin was born and raised in New York City, but his age is appropriate to our main characters. I'm sure he smiled, over and over as he recalled his own youth. His heart is in Racing with the Moon, and its worth your time, to go back for a moment, and enjoy those times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About friendship and a hazy future, September 18, 2005
By 
Bomojaz (South Central PA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Racing With the Moon (DVD)
Uneven but generally engaging movie set in northern California in 1942 that is concerned with two 17-year-old boys about to join the marines and their last month at home together. Both boys (Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage) have an amorous entanglement with different girls - Penn's leading to love (with Elizabeth McGovern), Cage's to an unwanted pregnancy and abortion (with Carol Kane). There isn't very much to the story, which leads to some unfortunate filler, such as a sequence in a pool hall where the boys try to hustle some sailors. But the movie gets across very well, and without bashing us over the head about it either, that these two guys are very good friends and, since WW II is going on, just may never see each other again. The romance between Penn and McGovern is poignant in its innocence, and there's just a nice feel-good quality about the whole thing. The settings are great, too, with careful attention to details shown. Worth a watch.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is destined to become a classic., June 24, 2006
This review is from: Racing With the Moon (DVD)
It's really kind of sad how great movies such as this one get put on the "backburner". I have seen all of the movies of Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage, and this is by far the best movie that they have ever acted in. Elizabeth Mcgovern is perfect as Sean Penn's love interest and she plays her part beautifully. This is a feel good movie, you can't watch this movie without reaching out to the past and wishing that we were living in a world that was more innocent and simple. The story line of this movie will tug at your heart strings. The music is beautiful and the scenary is inspirational. This great movie is definitely worth your time and money. You will be transported to a time when "we americans" knew our roots and how to nourish them. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance by Penn and Cage, September 10, 1999
By A Customer
This movie featuring a young Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage captures the essence of life in a small town in the 40's. The innocence of the characters as they learn the complexities of life and death is touching. The love story between Penn and Elizabeth McGovern is extremely sweet and moving. Friendship, family, and coming of age are beautifully presented with the perfect amount of comedic scenes intertwined. Loved it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, March 3, 1999
By A Customer
This is my favorite movie of all time. It has gone largely unrecognized, despite appearances from actors who have since reached enormous popularity. The beauty of this film lies partly in its lack of pretention. For those who are touched by the complexities of everyday life, you are sure to appreciate this film. From its suggestive title to its profound storyline, "Racing with the Moon" is a treasure. Revel in the emotion this movie magically movie evokes. Surely, those willing to relate intensely to a scene or scenes, as they spark distant and porfound memorories, will appreciate the artistry of this work. This film amalgamates every aspect of life and youth -- from its sweet innocence to its harsh and painful truths, without a hint sensationalism. This is a realistic, imaginative, and touching story which anyone who has an emotional soul will appreciate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Penn and Cage in the early days...a MUST see!, February 26, 1999
By A Customer
Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage, together with Elizabeth McGovern star in this 1940's WWII film about being a young man getting ready to head off for the war and trying to find himself and deal with his fear before he goes. It's wonderfully written, with some heavy scenes that were unexpected and some very moving dialog. Love and love lost...the three of them are at their finest here!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of Age in the War Era, October 25, 2011
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This review is from: Racing With the Moon (DVD)
A beautifully shot & directed film by Richard Benjamin, RACING WITH THE MOON stars a young Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage and, in what has turned out to be a disappointingly rare occurrance, a perfectly cast Elizabeth McGovern as Penn's love interest.

Set in the WWII era, this is a coming-of-age flick with Penn & Cage playing out the string, as it were, prior to each joining the military for a stint fighting the Nazis. While I'm not a big fan of either Penn or Cage, this movie finds their performances disarmingly unaffected and sprinkled with the luminescent fairy dust we all knew once upon a time as youth.

Without giving away the whole story, Penn & McGovern fall for each other, leading (in a roundabout way) to a falling out for best friends Penn & Cage. Penn thinks McGovern the Rich Girl on the Hill - in truth, she's the daughter of the rich family's maid - and the ensuing confusion leads to a brief parting of the two young lovers who, once all the red tape is straightened out, fall back madly into love - just in time for Penn's (and Cage's) departure for boot camp. Penn & Cage bury their hatchets, too, as the realization hits them both that they may never see each other again once they head overseas.

Benjamin's airbrushed mid-20th Century Southern California only adds to the dreamlike quality of this movie; it is sweet without the sap; poignant without the mush. And McGovern turns in a beautiful performance as the template for every male teen's first love: Pretty - but not gorgeous; coy - but not teasingly so.

This movie probably serves best as a reminder to us all of what we once were: Young, innocent & in love - and one big step from having all that change. In RACING WITH THE MOON, the catalyst for the big change comes in the form of Penn & Cage's impending entry into the war - and a very uncertain adulthood.
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Racing With The Moon
Racing With The Moon by Richard Benjamin
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