Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oscar Movie Review: "Moonstruck" (1987)

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Year Nominated: 1988
Director: Norman Jewison
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) has just proposed to his girlfriend Loretta Castorini (Cher). Loretta doesn't really love Johnny but is a widow in her late 30's so she accepts. Before they are married Johnny must fly to Sicily and visit his dying mother. While he's gone, Johnny asks Loretta to invite his brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to their wedding for him since he and Ronny haven't spoken in five years. Loretta agrees, but upon meeting Ronny and spending just a short time with him, they quickly fall in love. She tries to break it off with Ronny knowing she doesn't want to hurt Johnny, but her feelings may be too strong. 
Anyone who says Cher didn't deserve her Best Actress trophy for her role in "Moonstruck" can kiss my grits.

I grew up with "Moonstruck" in my blood. Hell, do you know what an eggy in the hole/egg in a basket is? My mom would call them "Moonstruck Surprises" because that's what Olympia Dukakis was making in the film! I still look forward to watching it every few years or so because it just puts me in a such a great mood. I absolutely adore this movie and don't care who knows it. Sure, it's sort of corny and a little bit cheesy, but the chemistry between and performances of both Cher and Nicolas Cage are so wonderfully delightful. Cher, a widowed 37-year old living in her family's house, has a large, loud Italian family who are always in each others business. Graying hair and not in love, she agrees to marry Johnny Cammareri, played expertly by Danny Aiello, a sweet, kind man who her father dislikes because he's a "crybaby," but she's not getting any younger. You really get the sense based on Cher's portrayal that Loretta is almost trapped in her life, stuck living at home and without many prospects. Her views on romance are jaded as she feels like she is cursed when it comes to love. On the way out of town to see his dying mother, in a last ditch effort to make peace with his brother Ronny, Johnny asks Loretta to call and invite him to their wedding. From the second they are on screen together, you can tell that Nicolas Cage's Ronny, who is still relatively crazy in this movie, is smitten with Cher's Loretta. Between the full moons and an opera date, Loretta and Ronny fall in love, and though it's sort of sordid, their story together still manages to be charming and more sincere than the relationship between Loretta and Johnny. In between their blossoming love, we also get a look inside the love of Loretta's parents, Loretta's grandparents, and other extended family members and friends who bicker and argue and do or say things they might regret, but always come back around to happiness and mutual respect with one another. Olympia Dukakis is also fabulous in this movie as Rose, a woman who has seen better days in her romantic relationship with Loretta's father, Cosmo, who is cheating on her with that two-bit hooker Mona. Desperate in her own way, Rose knows something is going on behind her back, so she does the only thing she knows how: she prays. Eventually, her strength is shown and we see that it's not always what the man of the house says and does that goes.

Though this is one of those "big family" types of romantic comedies with a boisterous New York feel, "Moonstruck" is still unique in its own way. As we mentioned above, some of its themes and dialogue might be cliche or corny from time to time, but when added to a stellar cast, a great story and a ton of one-liners that I try to incorporate into my vernacular whenever possible, you have the recipe for a fantastic, unforgettable love story that I like much more than BigJ.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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