(1987) Romantic Comedy
Starring Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis
Directed by Norman Jewison
Produced by Norman Jewison and Patrick Palmer
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Music by Dick Hyman
Running time: 102 minutes
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
“Playing it safe is about the most dangerous thing a woman like you could do.” –Nicolas Cage (as Ronny)
The word “moonstruck” is derived from an old Italian belief that the moon causes insanity. $91.6 million and three Academy Awards? (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay) Score! Crazy pays off.
Moonstruck is the story of a dowdy (I so don’t mean this term literally–Cher is hot from intro to credits) accountant. She is working for a family business in Brooklyn and clearly engaged to the wrong man. Her fiance (Danny Aiello) needs to attend his dying mother and wants Loretta (Cher) to call his estranged brother (Cage) and ask him to attend the wedding. I’m climbing up on my soapbox for the good of womankind and love in general, so please bear with me. Dude(s), do not propose in a restaurant. It’s a cliche for a reason. Diamonds in dessert? Diamonds in drinks? Seriously, do you want a trip to the ER on your big night? And furthermore, ladies, if you have to tell your man how you want the deed done, perhaps he isn’t the right one for you. Pick a man who knows you so well he doesn’t need instructions. Otherwise, according to Moonstruck, you just might end up in the sack with his brother. If your man won’t set a date, if he’s scared to tell his mother you’re the woman of his dreams, if he wants you to call his brother because he can’t grow a pair and do it himself, break it off! In other words, take heed… No matter how badly you want to be married, these are the kind of signs you pay attention to, unless you’re looking for a nice ride through divorce court or many a long and lonely golden year. Cosmo (Gardenia) said it best: “I don’t like his face, Loretta. I don’t like his lips. When he smiles, I can’t see his teeth. What is he hiding?” Nothing worth finding, that’s for sure.
So… intro stage wrong: Ronny (Cage). I was very quick to assess that he was overacting. In fact, I even went so far as to think, damn, Cage is lucky he’s hot, because his first monologue is definitely not. But as the movie progressed, I changed my tune. He’s got a lot of pent up crazy (damn that moon). And he refuses to take any responsibility for his circumstances until he gets rattled upside his chewed-off foot by the bride without a head. (Trust me, you’ll recognize this scene when you see it.) He’s a hot mess, but he ends up being so worth the effort. By the final scene of the movie, I was cheering him on and retracting all my previous criticism.
I’ve seen this movie so many times, but for some reason (perhaps my current circumstance) the running commentary on the complexities of love really resonated with me this time around. I love Loretta’s relationship with Cosmo and the other subtlties, the liberties, taken by all the actors. Honestly, there are some stellar (pun intended) performances in this flick. Rose (Dukakis) sums it up: “When you love ’em, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.” And I love it all. I love the Italian, love the soundtrack, love the old wives tales and folklore about curses, and bad luck, and the moon. Speaking of… evidently, in the world of Moonstruck you can actually see a full moon several nights in a row in New York. Who knew? The script, the insight on the tangle of men and women, the way the cast has full-on follow through–it’s all so enchanting.
So, one spider for Cher’s wolf speech with a side of bloody steak.
One spider for all that is Italian.
One spider for the shots of New York at night.
One spider for the soundtrack.
And another for making me want to quote every other line.
Alla Fine! To Family!