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This has been a year in the making. Last year, I felt badly that I didn’t get to do a review for Valentine’s Day that was a romantic comedy, but I got lazy and didn’t do one in time. It’s a bummer, because I love the genre, but don’t find myself really wanting to rewatch or own many of those types of films. Seems like today that we’ve got to have more romantic dramas, but sometimes, I just want a good earnest rom com. I can’t really think of a better one, than to talk about one of my all-time favorite movies, director Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck.
The story takes place in New York as we follow the life of Loretta Castorini, played by Cher. She is a widow that lives with her family and works as a bookkeeper. She decides that it’s time to get married again, and to get hooked with her boyfriend Johnny Cammareri, played by Danny Aiello. Unfortunately, they run into some trouble as Johnny has to go overseas to be with his dying mother. Johnny requests Loretta to go find his estranged brother to get him to come to the wedding. His brother’s name is Ronny Cammareri, played by Nicolas Cage. After meeting Ronny at his bakery, she tries to convince him back at his apartment, only to end up making love to him. It then turns into a dramatic love story of Loretta’s situation, Loretta’s father having an affair, and Loretta’s mother coping with what’s going on with her family.
The most standout feature of this film is how likable everyone is. You end up getting invested with everyone fairly quickly. I think it’s because of the sharp writing in the script by John Patrick Shanley. Everyone from the major characters to the minor characters have so much personality that while they might not always do good deeds, they pull you into the film’s world as you watch the story unfold. I have found myself quoting this movie along with my family multiple times a day, and that’s because the performances are incredible. I know it’s easy to look at Cher and poke at her other film experiences like Burlesque, but she is so good in this role! You feel for her being worried about getting married again, and watching her realize that getting married for the sake of it is not a good idea! I know we live in this society that cherishes marriage, but if you are getting married because that’s what your parents did, and not because you love your significant other, then that’s wrong. Nicolas Cage is also wonderful as the lead. Again, it’s easy to look at his recent film outings and laugh at how big of a nosedive his career took after a certain time period, but when he’s good, he’s incredible. While definitely playing up the overly dramatic side of his character, he does pull back and show his acting range. The entire cast is great. On top of Nicolas Cage and Cher, you have Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia, Julie Bovasso, Louis Guss, John Mahoney, Feodor Chaliapin Jr. and Anita Gillette. One of my favorite moments in the movie is actually between Olympia and John Mahoney’s characters. The entire film feels genuine with its emotions, writing, and development of the characters. It doesn’t feel forced, or take any weird twists and turns that would shatter the tone of the film, or have two unlikable characters get forced into loving one another. You don’t really see this in more modern romantic comedies, and it’s why I was so happy to see films like Crazy Rich Asians do well.
Moonstruck is simply one of the best rom coms of all time. It’s even one of the few that I know of that has major Academy Award recognition. I love watching it with my family every year, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good romantic movie. Sure, it can be a bit cheesy with the accents, but it’s so touching, endearing, and joyful to watch, that any nitpicks I have for the film are easily ignored. It’s a film I’ll never get tired of watching, and I’ll be here next year to say Play it Again!