Pontiac Moon

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Pontiac Moon
DVD cover
Directed by Peter Medak
Produced by Robert Schaffel
Youssef Vahabzadeh
Written by Finn Taylor
Jeffrey D. Brown
Starring Ted Danson
Mary Steenburgen
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Thomas Kloss
Edited by Anne V. Coates
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 4, 1994 (1994-11-04)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Pontiac Moon is a 1994 adventure film directed by Peter Medak, and produced by Robert Schaffel and Youssef Vahabzadeh.

The film stars Ted Danson as Washington Bellamy, a "pigheaded" science teacher in a small California town, and Mary Steenburgen as his wife Katherine. Danson was also one of 3 executive producers of the film, along with Jeffrey D. Brown (co-writer) and Robert Benedetti.


The film takes place in the summer of 1969, when NASA astronauts successfully landed on the moon for the first time, in the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Katherine, suffering from panic attacks caused by an automobile accident which resulted in the loss of their unborn child, refuses to leave the house, while Washington is a man of adventure who enjoys travel and experiencing life. As a result of the conflict between the two, eleven-year-old son Andy (Ryan Todd) has never traveled in a car, nor has he ever left town.

Washington, who also maintains a ragtag collection of automobiles of various vintages, decides to travel with Andy to the Spires of the Moon National Park (a fictitious park possibly based on Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve), arriving at the very moment the Apollo 11 crew lands on the moon. They make the trip in Washington's 1949 Pontiac Eight convertible nicknamed "Old Chief", and make some enemies, new friends, and learn the meaning of family. The Pontiac's mileage, when arriving at its destination, will be exactly the distance in miles from the Earth to the moon.

When Katherine finds out where her husband and son are going, she faces her fears (she hasn't been out the house for seven years), and follows them in one of Washington's cars, an Amphicar. She learns the importance of living as she follows the Pontiac to Spires Of The Moon. On the way, the Pontiac's engine dies, and Washington arranges for a mechanic to install a replacement engine, only to leave the premises without paying for the engine because he didn't have enough money to pay. At the moment of the Apollo 11 landing, the Pontiac crashes into a crater at Spires of The Moon, with Andy at the wheel. Katherine arrives, and they escape a police chase by driving the Amphicar into a lake to Canada and safety.

The adventure brings the Bellamy family together, and they are now ready to begin a more normal life.


The Pontiac's odometer shows its total mileage, including hundreds of thousands in miles. However, cars in 1949 had 5-digit odometers, so the real car would have "turned over" twice and showed 38,000 miles, not 238,000 miles. The car also features Hydra-Matic Drive, a popular option for Pontiacs since its introduction in 1948.

Amphicars did indeed travel on both land and in water, having dual propellers, sealed waterproof body, and even a 6-gallon per minute bilge pump built in. The cars were built in Germany and imported into the US from 1963 until 1967, after which the car's British Triumph engine didn't meet US standards for exhaust emissions for the 1968 model year. 1968 was the last year of Amphicar production.

Danson and Steenburgen are married in real life, having tied the knot in 1995.

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