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People call this Cher's movie, but Olympia Dukakis makes it for me. It's
under her roof that I heard some of my favorite dialogue in the
I am not a violent person, but "Old man . . . you give those dogs another piece of my meat and I'll kick ya til ya dead!" has got to be on my top ten list of memorable quotes.
I like the conversations around this family's kitchen table maybe because growing up, meals in my house were pretty silent even though there were seven of us. Funny that it took an Irish screenwriter to capture the Italian cadences. These people aren't caricatures of Italians or any other ethnicity, they are just a vocal family.
In another time, with just a few changes in the script, this story could have been high operatic drama. But it's not. It's a romantic comedy not a tragedy - even though it contains elements of tragedy - death under a bus, a lost limb, betrayal of marriage vows, and misinterpretations and misunderstandings.
But these characters TALK about what's on their minds. You want to know where the Met is located? You ask your hairdresser. You think your husband is flirting with another woman? You tell him that while you're both working behind the wine counter - in front of a customer. You're mad at your brother, you want to know why men need more than one woman, you want your son to pay for the wedding of his only daughter? If you really want to know, if you really want results or answers, you speak up!
Besides movies based on Agatha Christie novels, it is rare that a story ends with bringing the entire cast together more satisfyingly than "Moonstruck." The morning-after-the-opera scene in Rose Castorini's sunny kitchen with all the characters present is one that I can watch again and again. "You've got a love-bite on yer neck - your life's goin down the toilet!" "I want you to stop seeing her" "Who are we waiting for?" "Johnny Cammarari" "You're a part of the family!"
No matter what sort of table you grew up around, rent or buy this movie.
And remember, "No matter what you're gonna do you gonna die, just like everybody else!"
So wonderful, so quirky, so romantic, so Italian. The film is so feather -light you float off into its refracted reality and you never want to return to the humdrum again. A kitchen sink world of bakeries, and hairdressers, and plumbing, but one that shimmers with a soft luminescence. Should the credit go to the screenplay or the direction? Take your pick -- they're both faultless. Let me get back to that New York City that lies just beyond the looking glass.
This movie is brilliant in every way. It touches on the complexities of loving relationships in a meaningful way, but never lectures. The script never condescends toward any character, not even the hapless Johnny. It also and benefits from spot-on direction, production design, casting, and performances. The fact that Cher is so perfect in the film and is more unlike "Cher" than she has ever been is a wonder to me. I watch Moonstruck at least once a year and I just viewed it again this Christmas eve with my 16 year old twin daughters and they loved it as well. It has something for everyone with a heart and leaves you filled with joy in the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Loretta Castorini (Cher)is a woman in her late thirties, a widow, who
lives with her parents in a duplex apartment in Brooklyn. She is
engaged to marry Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), a bland man, more out
of a resigned duty than actual love. Before their wedding Johnny takes
a trip out to visit his mother who is sick and leaves Loretta the
function of playing the olive leaf with his brother Ronny by notifying
him of their impending wedding. Ronny (Nicholas Cage) hasn't forgiven
Johnny for being the cause of his accident which caused him the loss of
his hand (and subsequently, his then-bride-to-be), but he does fall for
Loretta, and hard. After a heated affair Loretta out of respect for
Johnny tries to avoid Ronny, but his dark looks and overpowering
masculinity win her over. Meanwhile, Loretta's mother Rose Castorini
(Olympia Dukakis) is not only suspecting her husband Cosmo (Vincent
Gardenia) is seeing another woman, but is also herself the subject of
admiration from a college professor and wonders why do men chase women.
Things get complicated when Johnny returns from Sicily to tell Loretta
they can't be married.
The setup is pure sitcom, but the story, written by John Patrick Shanley with a deep understanding for Italian-Americans living in New York, is genuine: he gets the idiosyncrasies of these people and their day-to-day foibles and quirks, and all of the characters have a deep romanticism that comes through in key moments throughout the story. Loretta, a character hardened by the loss of her husband and knowing her chances of happiness are slim, slowly emerges as a woman who is so swept by the sudden recognition of love she becomes the heroine of La Boheme -- the one who acknowledges the love of the man with the wooden hand (in a clever gender reversal), and Cher inhabits the role and makes it hers and in her own style subtly trades her frumpiness to a deep, dark beauty. Ronny is pure fire and Nicholas Cage exudes masculine power as if he were channeling Marlon Brando. The Castorini's and the Cappomaggi's, counterbalancing the central couple, both express their love for each other in two very crucial moments: the latter couple, on the night of the full moon when Loretta and Ronny consummate their affair -- a rare scene depicting love and intimacy among the elderly --, and the former at a tense moment over breakfast when Rose bluntly reveals, in touching words, that she wants Cosmo to stop seeing his mistress Mona (Anita Gillette).
MOONSTRUCK is not only the romantic comedy and date movie of choice, but also a beautiful examination of love and passion among regular people. The ending is a tour de force of emotional impact, the family situation going beyond the momentary complications to cement it in tradition going back to the days of immigrants, and is one that elevates this movie from being just another feel-good movie to a classic. MOONSTRUCK deservedly got its Oscars for Best Writing, Actress, and Supporting Actress, and has proved to grow beyond its time.
Wonderful romance comedy drama about an Italian widow (Cher) who's planning to marry a man she's comfortable with (Danny Aiello) until she falls for his headstrong, angry brother (Nicholas Cage). The script is sharp with plenty of great lines, the acting is wonderful, the accents (I've been told) are letter perfect and the cinematography is beautiful. New York has never looked so good on the screen. A must-see primarily for Cher and Olympia Dukakis--they're both fantastic and richly deserved the Oscars they got. A beautiful, funny film. A must see!
Deliriously romantic comedy with intertwining subplots that mesh beautifully and actors who bounce lines off each other with precise comic timing, a feat that is beautiful to behold. When Cher's spineless fiancé asks her to help him make peace with his estranged, moody younger brother, no one could dream the consequences which follow. Operatic symbolism, Catholic church confessions, love bites and falling snow..."Moonstruck" is timeless and smooth. It takes about 15 minutes for the picture's rhythm to kick in (there's an early sequence with the grandfather and his dogs at the cemetery that's a little rough, and a following scene with Cosmo and the elderly man at the gate that seems obtuse), but the patchwork of the plot is interwoven with nimble skill, and the movie's wobbly tone and kooky spirit are both infectious. ***1/2 from ****
'Moonstruck' is a love story. There is not one romance, there are at least
three, but they all have to do with the same family. Loretta's family.
Loretta (Cher) is about to marry Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello). She
doesn't love him, but he is sweet and good man. When he leaves to visit his
dying mother in Italy Loretta meets Johnny's brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage).
He and Johnny haven't spoken each other in five years and Loretta wants to
invite him to the wedding. Of course they fall instantly for each
How this story and love stories of Loretta's parents and uncle and aunt develop is something you simply have to see for yourself. Every seen is a delight to watch, with Cher as the bright star in the middle of everything. She won and really deserved the Oscar that year. Cage is pretty good, and goofy as well, and Olympia Dukakis as Loretta's mother and Vincent Gardenia as her father are terrific. This movie is funny, charming and therefore highly enjoyable.
There is nothing not to like about Moonstruck. I'm from a New York Italian family and I actually get a little homesick when I watch it. The actors & actresses, the plot, the subplots, the humor.. they were all fantastic. It starts a little slow, but a lot happens in that two days! I fell in love with LaBoheme because of this movie. On my list of favorite movies, Moonstruck is number 3. It's a "feel good" movie where you leave the theatre humming "that's amore" or repeating some of your favorite lines: "old man, if you give those dogs another piece of my food, I'll kick you till you're dead"; "Chrissy, bring me the big knife", "who's dead", "do you love him Loretta....., good because when you do, they drive you crazy because they know they can". I always put Moonstruck on when there's nothing good to watch because it makes me happy.
This film stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of
cinematic romantic comedies. It is virtually flawless! The writing,
acting, production design, humor and pathos are all wonderful! Even the
music -- from Dean Martin to La Boheme -- is captivating and
Every character is peculiarly delightful and memorable, from the leads played by Cher and Nicolas Cage, to the many supporting roles -- Olympia Dukakis , Vincent Gardenia, John Mahoney, Danny Aiello -- even grandpa with his dog pack! Each of these performers, plus Norman Jewison as Director, performs above their normal quality in this ensemble work. For several of the actors, this was an early major exposure in film, so the casting is also exceptional -- and we have many current acting powerhouses whose careers were altered by their effectiveness in this film.
I've seen this film several times all the way through -- which can sometimes deflate the impact of a film substantially. More tellingly, I realized some years ago that whenever I channel-surfed my way into a scene from this film -- any scene -- the scene was compelling and beautifully crafted. There are so many stunning and memorable scenes the original meeting between the Cher and Nicolas Cage characters, where Cage tells his tale of woe; Vincent Gardenia discovered with his paramour at the opera, amidst the splendor generated by his gold-mine plumbing business; Olympia Dukakis scolding John Mahoney for philandering with his student in the classic line about liaisons with co-workers: "Don't sh-t where you eat!"; Danny Aiello at his dying mother's bedside; Nicolas Cage "taking" Cher as the rapture of an aria soars in the background!
There are of course many great romantic comedies, among them Sabrina (both versions, but especially the Audrey Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart/William Holden original); When Harry Met Sally; The Apartment.
None quite equals Moonstruck!
This movie is still an all time favorite. Only a pretentious, humorless
moron would not enjoy this wonderful film. This movie feels like a
slice of warm apple pie topped with french vanilla ice cream! I think
this is Cher's best work ever and her most believable performance. Cher
has always been blessed with charisma, good looks, and an enviably thin
figure. Whether you like her singing or not - who else sounds like
Cher? Cher has definitely made her mark in the entertainment industry
and will be remembered long after others have come and gone. She is one
of the most unique artists out there. It's funny, because who would
have thought of Cher as such a naturally gifted actress? She is heads
above the so-called movie "stars" of today. Cher is a real actor on the
same level as Debra Winger, Alfre Woodard, Holly Hunter, Angela Bassett
and a few others, in that she never seems to be "acting," she really
becomes the character convincingly. She has more than earned the
respect of her peers and of the movie-going public.
Everything about Moonstruck is wonderful - the characters, the scenery, the dialog, the food. I never get tired of watching this movie.
Every time single time I watch the scene where they are all sitting around the dinner table at Rose's house, I pause the remote to see exactly what delicious food Rose is serving. I saw the spaghetti, mushrooms (I think), but I can't make out whether they are eating ravioli, ziti? What is that main course? It looks wonderful and its driving me nuts!
Everybody in that family was a hardworking individual and they respected and cared about one another. The grandfather wasn't pushed aside and tolerated, he was a vital part of the family and he was listened to and respected for his age and wisdom. He seemed to be a pretty healthy, independent old codger too.
Loretta's mom wasn't "just a housewife," she was the glue that held the family together and was a model example of what a wife, mother, and home manager should aspire to be. She was proud of the lifestyle she had chosen but she didn't let it define who she was. High powered businessmen aren't as comfortable in their skin as Rose Casterini was. Notice the saucy way she said "I didn't have kids until after I was 37. It ain't over 'til its over." You got the sense that she had been the type of young woman who did exactly as she pleased and got her way without the other person realizing what had happened. She was charming, quick witted, and very smart. What a great mom!
I didn't actually like Loretta right away because she seemed like a bit of a know--it-all who wasn't really as adventurous and as in control of herself as she wanted others to think. She could tell others about themselves and where they had gone wrong, but she really didn't apply common sense to her own life. She was going to marry a middle-aged mama's boy simply because she wanted a husband and a sense of identity and purpose to her life. She was more conventional than her own mom. She dressed and wore her hair like a matron at a house of detention and seemed humorless and bored, but underneath you sensed that she was vulnerable and lonely and had a lot of love to give the right man. She would probably end up making an awesome mom too.
I could see in the future, a house full of Loretta and Ronnie's loud, screaming happy kids and Rose and Cosmo enjoying every minute of it.
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