"Paper Moon" is an adorable comedy about a young, stubborn girl in the 30's named Addie (Tatum O'Neal). The movie begins at her mother's funeral, where the con-man Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) comes to pay his respects. The adults at the funeral tell Moze to take Addie with him, to her aunt's house in Missouri. He reluctantly accepts, and as they go along, he begins to realize that she's just as good a con artist as he is...and we begin to wonder if perhaps he is really her father.
The film is just irresistibly cute, from beginning to end, mainly helped by Tatum O'Neal's lovely performance as Addie. Her comedic timing is just impeccable for someone of her age...her "I want my 200 dollars" scene is just perfect. There's just something about her, a sort of wiseness, that you can feel, that sets her apart from the typical child actor. She was completely deserving of her Oscar win (though she was really a leading role).
Madeline Kahn and Ryan O'Neal both also give very good performances, helped by the sharp and multi-dimensional script. The script gives each character just enough backstory for them to work with and yet it never gets in the way. It's amazing to think of what Madeline Kahn's character must have been thinking during her monologue in the tall grass with Addie, in which she makes a very personal confession. Additionally, the screenplay balances hilarity with the necessary drama, and it's perfect.
Bogdanovich does the film in black-and-white just like "The Last Picture Show", which is a perfect technique for the film. It juxtaposes the whimsical story with the stark desperation of that time period which is a very strong technique. There's something to be said for the fact that my entire family loved the film - even my elementary school brothers adored it.
If you haven't seen it, "Paper Moon" is definitely worth your time. It's a wonderful little film that contains a spectacular child performance from Tatum O'Neal and the entire piece is just lovely. It's hilarious, light, and nearly perfect.