'Moonstruck' is a loony movie with overwrought, wonderful characters who find -- and rediscover -- love under the magical influence of a big, bright full moon.
Directed by Norman Jewison, 'Moonstruck' is a slice-of-Brooklyn life in an Italian family. It is the story of Loretta, an unlucky, straight-laced 37-year-old widow, played delightfully by Cher.
At the movie's start, Loretta walks with her head down and shoulders stooped but in control of her staid and boring life as an accountant.
But a young man who lives his life like the tragic character in an opera -- a truly offbeat comic performance by Nicholas Cage, who keeps landing oddball roles and making them unforgettable -- changes everything for Loretta.
They are love-struck, and Loretta begins to skip down the street. However, the man who opened her soul happens to be the brother of her fiance.
'We aren't perfect,' Cage's Ronny tells Loretta. 'We were made to fall in love with the wrong people and break our hearts.' Loretta must choose between Johnny -- a bumbling 42-year-old still dominated by his mother a half-world away -- and an imperfect life with Ronny.
As Johnny, Danny Aiello handles a tricky characterization with just the right amount of neurosis and gentle wit.
The film is filled with heartwarming characters who look like they're carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, yet manage to get out from under long enough to laugh at themselves and their lives.
In one crazy evening, Loretta's father -- played with bitter sweetness by Vincent Gardenia -- takes his mistress to the opera while her mother -- played by Olympia Dukakis in a restrained and hilarious performance that almost steals the picture -- has dinner with a strange man she meets in a restaurant.
The climax to all these mismatched love affairs of the heart and mind brings the family to the breakfast table with no one telling the whole truth but everyone sensing a part of it.
They all fidget and groan and cast sidelong glances, trying not to blurt out what they know -- or ask about the part they only guess at.
Loretta's grandfather finally blurts out: 'Somebody tell a joke.'
These offbeat characters seem so familiar and good-hearted, perhaps, because in the end, despite their misguided romantic forays, they walk through life bearing a big grin.
Jewison's point seems to be that love may not be perfect, but it can be sweet fun.
This movie is rated PG. The film contains some material of an adult nature.
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