I don’t think I understand passion like the Italian-Americans in Moonstruck do. When I see a big full moon, I just want to sit on the porch and drink beer with it. I don’t function through superstitions, yelling, constant arguing or angrily telling the stories of lost loves and limbs, then threatening suicide. But these people do and I hope to never meet them.
Cher plays Loretta, a widow who’s just accepted the proposal of Johnny (Danny Aiello), a nice middle aged man. This second time around, Loretta wants to do everything right. She believes that her first marriage was cursed because they got married at City Hall, which led to her husband being hit by a bus. You see the logic going on here? So with Johnny, Loretta makes sure he proposes on his knees, with a ring. Almost immediately after the proposal, Johnny has to leave for the old country, where his mother is on her deathbed. While he’s gone, he wants Loretta to invite his younger brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding, but there’s some bad blood between the brothers.
Ronny is one of those characters that only Nicolas Cage could pull off. This is one of his more believable and natural feeling performances. His first big scene in the bakery basement has a moment just shy of included in one of my favorite YouTube videos: Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit. Though Ronny isn’t outlandish enough to be included in that video, he is the kind of ultra passionate person who finds it appropriate to make a scene out of telling his future sister-in-law how he lost his hand in a bred slicer because Johnny distracted him and the loss of his hand caused his own fiance to break up with him. Then he continues by threatening to cut his own throat, “I want you to watch me kill myself so you can tell my brother Johnny on his wedding day.” Great first impression.
Somehow, Loretta takes pity on Ronny, makes him dinner, old Italian passions rise up and they sleep together. She can blame that freakishly giant moon outside all she wants, but if Loretta was trying to make sure her engagement perfect and free of things that will cause someone to get hit by a bus, sleeping with the groom’s brother is not the way to go. Now she’s pulled between Johnny and Ronny.
It’s not over yet, since Johnny isn’t due back for a while, Ronny wants to take Loretta to the opera so he can have the two things he loves the most in one night. She agrees and the film suddenly turns into an 80’s big haired princess story with Loretta getting a makeover and going out with the prince’s crazy brother. And it’s not just Loretta who’s seeing the wrong person that night. Her father has a mistress, it’s a great moment when they run into each other at the opera both wondering who their date is.
Moonstruck was an annoyance to me, but others could really enjoy it. If you’re a fan of romance, big moon fueled Italian passion or Cher then this is probably a film you’ll enjoy. Cher did win best actress for this film and I’m trying to be happy for her. But how can I when Glen Close was so wonderfully creepy? And the great Meryl Streep, that one must’ve hurt. In the end, I just enjoyed watching Cage go nuts with an Italian accent.
“I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget?”