'Moonstruck' -- a loony movie that shinesNUTS

By CATHY BURKE, United Press International

'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.

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM -- Directed by Barry Levinson, this film gives comedian-actor Robin Williams plenty of room to strut his inventive and ingenious stuff as an outrageous Armed Forces Radio disk jockey in Saigon in 1965. The plot revolves around his growing anger at censorship as the war in Vietnam cranks up. But the film is all Williams; he has a field day with this character and this country and this period in history, with all its horror -- and comedy. Rated R. RAW -- Eddie Murphy is just that in this concert film directed by the talented Robert Townsend and written by Murphy. The comedian proves himself -- again -- as an unfailing mimic with astounding energy. The material is lewd, loud, offensive and never very far from the mark -- be it black or white. Murphy also has a steady eye on the battle of the sexes, and though he seems to be a bit war-scarred, his loss, when translated into some raucous humor, is our gain.



-- This bittersweet love story is set against the world of network news and writer-producer-director James Brooks ('Terms of Endearment') fills his satire with some lovable heros and villains - and characters that don't quite fit into either category. The polished look to this wonderful romantic comedy is due in part to Brooks's familiarity with his topic: He was director of the highly popular 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' during its successful run on television in the 1970s. Starring Holly Hunter, William Hurt and Albert Brooks. Rated R. THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN -- Danny DeVito directs and stars in this funny, offbeat homage to Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, but it's co-star Billy Crystal who brings all the elements together. The story focues on some elaborate plans to kill a couple of despicable people, and the two loony guys who almost bring it off. IRONWEED -- Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep are boozy lost souls in the film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by William Kennedy, who also wrote the screenplay. They give heart-wrenching performances as bums in Albany, N.Y., in 1938 -- in character all the way down to their grime-streaked hands. But 'Ironweed' makes the sadness seem isolated and dangerous and unreal; it only exists where the bums live, it doesn't reach into the lives of good families. Rated R. WALL STREET -- This new film by director Oliver Stone ('Platoon'), is updated Faust: The devil gambles in corporate shares and a poor-but-honest stockbroker sells his soul for a piece of a multimillion-dollar illusion. Stone started out with this well-worn theme, then created a new generation villain, played wonderfully by Michael Douglas, the penultimate corporate raider who gamblesmillions on America's big and small corporations. Also starring Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah and Martin Sheen. Rated R. EMPIRE OF THE SUN -- Steven Spielberg's new film is gigantic, filled with the grandeur of the Orient and the fury of worlds at war, seen through the wide-open eyes of an 11-year-old boy, played by Christian Bale. He once again proves his skill at directing films whose heroes are vulnerable but gritty children. The trouble with 'Empire of the Sun' is not in its grand vision, or poignant drama or childlike point of view. What seems to go wrong is that, like a child, the film just keeps rambling along from one incident to another. Also starring John Malkovich, Joe Pantoliano and Miranda Richardson. Rated PG. PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES -- Directed by John Hughes and starring Steve Martin and John Candy, two of the funniest men in American comedy, the film barrels along with a bumbling zeal, but it's comedy at its most predictable. The main characters are meant to be the kind of odd couple who wind up liking one another just because they are so different, and learn something truly valuable from each other. Instead, as played by Martin and Candy, the marketing executive and traveling salesman are just two nuts who get stuck together, and their lack of spark as a comedy team makes the sticky sweet ending even less likely. But there are moments in this road movie that are too irresistible to hate, no matter how obvious. Rated R.


-- A powerful drama about a woman who's unafraid of every truth except the deepest, most troubling truth about herself, this film is based on the play by Tom Topor, directed by Martin Ritt ('Hud,' 'Norma Rae,' 'Murphy's Romance') and stars a veteran cast led by Barbra Streisand. Nevertheless, 'Nuts' never equals the sum of its parts. There's no doubt that the gutsy lady-of-the night is anything but sane, and it takes a good deal of the edge off the movie. Rated R. SIESTA -- This new film by music video director Mary Lambert features an all-star cast including Ellen Barkin, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Jones, Jodie Foster, Julian Sands and Gabriel Byrne. Music is by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. But though the images are bold, and the feeling surreal, there's little of this elongated death scene you care to remember. Rated R.

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