Under the Hula Moon

A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, "Under the Hula Moon" is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it.

With:
Buzzard Wall - Stephen Baldwin
Betty Wall - Emily Lloyd
Turk Dickson - Chris Penn
Maya Gundinger - Musetta Vander

A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately the film’s tone is on the diffuse side, spelling a more certain future on cable and video than in theaters.

Living in a trailer home dripping with faux Hawaiian decor, Buzzard Wall (Stephen Baldwin) and his wife, Betty (Emily Lloyd), are banking on his invention of an ultraprotective sunscreen lotion to get them out of Cactus Gulch and into the tropics. But their application for a government product-funding grant gets turned down, and their fantasy looks set to fizzle.

Enter Turk (Chris Penn), Buzz’s murder-happy half-brother, fresh from a prison break and looking for a handout. Things get ugly fast, with Turk putting his brother momentarily out of action and then taking Betty hostage. Teaming up with ambitious reporter Maya Gundinger (Musetta Vander), Buzz sets off across the Tex-Mex desert to save Betty.

The film is never less than likable but rarely much more. The desired register seems to lie somewhere between “Raising Arizona” and “El Mariachi,” but the comedy clicks only some of the time and the violence is miscalculated, going brutally beyond the comic-book flippancy it should have.

Performing in an affably screwy key, Lloyd and Baldwin make a winsome pair, their energy and natural humor helping to muffle the script’s weaknesses and first-time feature director Jeff Celentano’s somewhat unsure hand on the rudder. Penn also is fine, though his menacing character reps the movie’s least successfully integrated element.

Under the Hula Moon

Production: A Periscope Pictures production. Produced by Stacey Codikow. Executive producer, Jim B. Hodge. Line producer, Guy Riedel. Directed by Jeff Celentano. Screenplay, Celentano, Gregory Webb.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Phil Parmet; editor, Donald Likovich; music, Hidden Faces; production design, Randal P. Earnest; art direction, David Fitzpatrick; costume design, Susanna Puisto; sound (Dolby), Mary J. DeVenney; associate producer, Gregory Webb; assistant directors , Lee Blaine, Chris Edmonds; casting, Elisabeth Leustig. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 20, 1995. Running time: 94 min.

With: Buzzard Wall - Stephen Baldwin
Betty Wall - Emily Lloyd
Turk Dickson - Chris Penn
Maya Gundinger - Musetta Vander
With: Edie McClurg, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Bill Campbell, Carel Struycken.

More Film

  • NANTUCKET, MA - JUNE 23: (L-R)

    How Long Will TV and Film's Boom Market for Female Stories Last?

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • 'Ideal Home' Review: Steve Coogan, Paul

    Film Review: 'Ideal Home'

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • 'Calibre' Review: A Terrific, Intensely Terrifying

    Edinburgh Film Review: 'Calibre'

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • CHRIS PRATT stars as Owen in

    Box Office: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Gnaws on $144 Million Debut Weekend

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • Leung Chiu-wai

    Tony Leung Breaks With Wong Kar-wai’s Jettone (Reports)

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    ‘Jurassic World’ Holds off ‘Incredibles 2’ in China

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

  • shanghai skyline China Placeholder

    Regulators Keep Chinese Film Industry in Suspense

    A glossy, good-looking comedy-thriller about a devoted young couple who dream of Hawaiian splendor but are stuck in the sweltering desert, “Under the Hula Moon” is a lightweight but sufficiently entertaining dose of comic dementia with a nightmarish streak of violence running through it. The strong cast supplies a good deal of charm, but ultimately […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content