2/21/12: Moonstruck


I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride!

Hi Readers. I’m Paulie Marino & I’m thrilled to review Norman Jewison’s wonderful romantic comedy from 1987, Moonstruck, starring Cher as Loretta Castorini and Nicholas Cage as Ronny Cammareri.

Loretta is an approaching middle age Brooklyn widow, married for just 2 years, when “bad luck”, in the form of bus, struck down her new husband and her dreams of happiness. Like many first & second generation Italians, Loretta is very superstitious. She firmly believes that her marriage was cursed – though she later acknowledges, contradictorily, that she doesn’t believe in curses – because she wasn’t married in a church w/ a big reception, but rather by the Justice of the Peace in front of a group of strangers waiting in line. She isn’t getting any younger and, although she really likes but doesn’t love him, accepts the proposal of Johnny Cammareri, her late husband’s best friend. Johnny is played brilliantly by Danny Aeillo in arguably his best role other than Louis in Jacob’s Ladder.

Johnny agrees to a large wedding but there’s a problem – there’s “bad blood” between him & his younger brother Ronny. He asks Loretta to invite Ronny to the wedding to alleviate the problem while he goes to Sicily to visit their dying mother. Well, when the two of them do meet, it’s pretty much love at first sight. The complications that ensue w/ this and the other relationships & character interactions of the film are hilarious and the 100+ minute film goes by in the blink of an eye.

It’s unfortunate that so few romantic comedies these days follow the construct of this wonderful piece – a triple winner in the 60th Academy Awards: Cher for Actress; John Patrick Shanley for Original Screenplay; and Olympia Dukakis as Loretta’s wise, kind & patient mother, Rose, for Supporting Actress. It also received Oscar Nominations for Director (Jewison), Supporting Actor (Vincent Gardenia as Loretta’s father, Cosmo), and Picture (Jewison & Patrick J. Palmer). How great is this film? There are currently & on 4/11/88, when the 60th Academy Awards Presentation was held, 8 major Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, and Adapted Screenplay. Obviously a film is eligible for only one of the writing categories, meaning there are really only 7 major Oscar categories for which a film is eligible. Moonstruck won 3 of those, was nominated for 3 others, and only missed out on Best Actor for Nicholas Cage.

Since Best Actor Nominations went to Marcello Mastroianni for “Dark Eyes” (What????) and Robin Williams for “Good Morning, Vietnam” (Really???), I’d say The Snub was pretty much in. Perhaps this is due to the polarizing nature of the film. While Cindy & I love it, my oldest brother & sister-in-law, John & Leslie, hate the film, citing Cher’s inadequacy as a second generation Brooklyn Italian. The Academy & I disagree vehemently. However, this film is currently ranked 9th on Premiere Magazine’s “20 Most Overrated Movies of All Time” and in 2008 was #8 on the American Film Institute’s List of the 10 Greatest Romantic Comedies.

And, w/ that, get out your DVD, go to Blockbuster or log onto Netflix, crank up the popcorn popper, and sit down & enjoy Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck!!!

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3 thoughts on “2/21/12: Moonstruck

  1. I adore this movie and can watch it over and over again. I love all the different layers of relationships, the interaction between the generations and the heavy Italian-American vibe (it feels a lot like my old neighborhood). You started your commentary with lines from one of the best scenes. I really like Cher in this movie. I think it’s one of her better roles. Years after first seeing this movie, I still see a full moon and think “Cosmo’s moon.”

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