Moonstruck (1987)

moonstruck poster 1987 movie cher
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Well crafted, smart romantic comedy that feels like a throwback


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Moonstruck

Studio:  MGM/Star Partners

Genre(s):  Romance/Comedy

Release Date(s):  December 1, 1987 (Premiere)/January 15, 1988 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

moonstruck nicolas cage cher opera met

Crap…we’ve got a problem

Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a widowed woman leaving in Brooklyn with her father Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia), her mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis), and her grandfather (Feodor Chaliapin Jr.).  Loretta finds her boyfriend Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) is prepared to marry her, but when he’s suddenly called back to Italy, he asks Loretta to contact his estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage)…which creates a strange and unexpected spark in Loretta.  Meanwhile, Rose suspects Cosmos is cheating on her and questions why men’s eyes wander.  When a full moon rises over the city, love strikes hard.

Directed by Norman Jewison, Moonstruck is a romantic comedy.  The film was released to positive reviews and received Academy Awards for Best Actress (Cher), Best Supporting Actress (Dukakis), and Best Original Screenplay with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Gardenia).  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1056).

moonstruck olympia dukakis dinner scene john mahoney

I’m got a nice saying from my mom that you need to hear…

Moonstruck is an odd film.  It feels very close to a “modern” version of a screwball comedy…which isn’t very common.  With all the eccentric players and a wild night, the movie has a classic feel.

The story not only feels a bit like a screwball, but it also feels very Shakespearian.  It has a festive “magical” feel with the moon tie and the quasi-partner swapping (though Olympia Dukakis never “swaps” with John Mahoney).  The movie really is about what builds a relationship and how relationships change over time (as demonstrated by the aunt and uncle characters played by Julie Bovasso and Louis Guss)…but it also has the “love conquers all” themes.

The cast is great.  Cher really works in the role in that she has a maturity that neither Cage or Aiello have but she also could still play younger.  Cage is a bit of a wild card (Cher fought for his casting), and though he is a firebrand, he ultimate succumbs to Loretta’s wishes.  Danny Aiello is the wimp of the group, but instead of hating him he is made likable (and you don’t pity him by the end since he too has found a welcoming family).  Vincent Gardenia is nice as the frustrated father but Olympia Dukakis also is a scene stealer (especially in her scenes with John Mahoney).

moonstruck cast ending kitchen

Did I miss anything while I was out of town?

The movie isn’t extremely flashy or loaded with locations.  While the Met is a nice setting for the opera sequence where the magic really happens, the movie is most personal and personable in the smaller more intimate scenes including the final kitchen scene.  It is in these tighter, more set based locations that it also feels a bit like the classic screwball comedies where all the characters come together to resolve the conflict.

Moonstruck is a fun, light film.  It should be seen if you haven’t seen it, and it does have some thoughtful moments that elevate it past simply being a “rom-com”.  The movie feels a bit like a model for the slew of similar films that surfaced after Moonstruck, but Moonstruck nails it better and the staying power that many didn’t have…if you don’t love Moonstruck, “Snap-out of it!”

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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