Moonstruck (1987) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG for language and some mild sexuality
Running Time: 102 min.

Cast: Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney
Director: Norman Jewison
Screenplay: John Patrick Shanley
Review published October 1, 2006

moonstruckMoonstruck is a critically-acclaimed crowd-pleasing romance that would go on to garner six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, with trophies handed out to Cher (The Witches of Eastwick, Mask), Dukakis (I Love Trouble, Mighty Aphrodite), and screenwriter Shanley (Joe vs. the Volcano, Congo).  As directed by veteran Norman Jewison (Agnes of God, Rollerball), this is an ensemble comedy that relies on good cast chemistry and charm for most of its laughs, and along those lines, the on-screen charisma does make for an enjoyable romantic comedy for most audiences.  Although two decades old (as of this writing), it holds up quite well, with an ageless tale of finding love in unlikely places, and re-finding it again in familiar ones.

Cher stars as 37-year-old Italian-American widow Loretta Castorini, a Brooklyn native who consents to marry her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri (Aiello, Purple Rose of Cairo).  Loretta doesn't love Johnny, but they seem to fit in ther own way, but the marriage will have to wait until Johnny returns from Sicily awaiting the final fate of his mother, whi is on her death bed.  Meanwhile, Loretta is out to make the marriage arrangements, including inviting Johnny's estranged (and quite strange) brother, Ronny (Cage, Valley Girl).  When a full moon is cast over the city, romance comes in bloom, and Loretta and Ronny feel a chemistry of their own that threatens to undo the wedding before it begins.

Moonstruck isn't really a plot-driven movie, so your interest level will probably vary.  It falls into the category of a "dessert film", whereby one can watch and enjoy for all of the smaller, whimsical pleasures it provides more so than in the substantial overriding themes that lay underneath.  It's an ensemble piece, and while not all of the cast members are of Italian descent (most notably Cher and Dukakis), their interactions and conversations are true to life in depicting the quibbling and nitpicking that goes on in any close-knit family.

While the film itself is slight, there are more than enough funny, romantic scenes to leave you with a smile.  It has an infectious theme of following your heart and not hold back on love, and should definitely hit home for those that enjoy ethnic family comedies of the most capricious variety.  It's a charmer.

Qwipster's rating

©2006 Vince Leo