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Norman Jewison's "Moonstruck"

Cher and Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck Cher and Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck

John Patrick Shanley won an Oscar for writing the screenplay of this exploration of contemporary male/female relationships. One of Norman Jewison's better films, Moonstruck features Cher at her best as a widowed bookkeeper who lives in a crazy, Italian-American household. She is engaged to be married to a kindly, but stodgy man, played by Danny Aiello. The colourful vignettes of New York life as played out in the kitchen of the Brooklyn brownstone are worth half the price of admission. Coupled with the sparks that fly between Cher and Nicolas Cage, who plays her fiancée's brother, it gets you the full enchilada. Or else, as the title song goes, "when the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that's amore."

Cher, the star with one nameCher, the star with one nameCher won the best actress Oscar for this one, and she deserves it. Olympia Dukakis plays her mother, and won the best supporting actress statuette for the role. Vincent Gardenia portrays Cosmo, her father, the successful plumber with a mistress on the side. The grandfather has five dogs, and feeds them scraps from the dinner table. A lot of scrapping goes on in the kitchen, with the father being dead set against the marriage, figuring that his daughter has bad luck where marriage is concerned.

Aiello flies off to Italy to be with his apparently dying mother. "She's dying, but I can still hear her big mouth," is how Cher puts it, after a transatlantic telephone call from her fiancée. She's proven right, when the mother makes a miraculous recovery, only to keep her bachelor son from getting married. "Do you love him?" her mother asks Cher. "No." "That's good. But do you like him?" "Oh yeah, he's a sweet man, and all that."

The official movie poster for MoonstruckThe official movie poster for MoonstruckSeems like the "sweet man" has an enemy, in the person of his brother, played by Cage. They haven't spoken for five years, since Aiello was responsible for an accident that ruined his brother's life. Cage finds a way to get back at his brother, and secure some happiness in the bargain. Cher ends up falling for him, and the resulting complications fill the rest of the film with enough warm hearted conflict to match the story of the star-crossed lovers in La Bohème, the opera that they go to toward the end.

Cage gives a bellowing, primal performance as Ronnie, while Cher's Loretta is transformed by love from a slumbering widow to a radiant lioness queen. Aiello's Johnny says in the beginning: "A man who can't control his woman is funny," but he ends up laughing only at himself. Not one to be controlled, Loretta sets the rules as soon as the idea of marriage comes up: "A man proposes marriage to a woman, he should kneel down," and Johnny does, at the risk of ruining his crisply ironed suit.

"The moon brings the woman to the man," explains the grandpa to his cronies, and it certainly does in this film. It's a feel-good movie, filled with intelligent family values, and it will stay with you long after you've taken the video back to the store.

Now that Cher seems to be back in the limelight (starring role in Burlesque and countless remixes of the trailer on YouTube, cover photo on Vanity Fair), perhaps it's the right time to see Moonstruck again and witness her Oscar-winning performance, back when she was 23 years younger.

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The full moon does its magic in Moonstruck
Last modified on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 09:09

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