No sooner does Italian-American widow Loretta accept a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend, Johnny, then she finds herself falling for his younger brother, Ronny. She tries to resist, but Ronny lost his hand in an accident he blames on his brother, and has no scruples about aggressively pursuing her while Johnny is out of the country. As Loretta falls deeper in love, she comes to learn that she’s not the only one in her family with a secret romance.
One Of the Most Perfect Romantic Comedies Ever Made
Everything about this film just works so well. I have just seen it for the third time, after several years. It is as fresh as ‘a flower newly plucked’. The quirky, tempestuous zest of the irrepressible Cher fills the film with more fizz than a case of Pepsi. (And no, I don’t drink such stuff, but you have to admit it is fizzy, if one ignores the aspartame and other dire threats to health.) Cher plays a wildly independent ‘handful’, the kind of gal who has true character and is very lovable if you can put up with her. Her husband died some time back and she has not found love again, so she is grumpy, being 37 years old and about to settle for the marital proposal of the feeble mama’s-boy played by Danny Aiello, whom she proudly tells her mother she does not love. (‘That’s good,’ says the mother, drolly played by Olympia Dukakis.) Aiello flies off to Palermo to see his mother who is always dramatically dying but never does. Before going, he asks Cher to contact his brother. ‘What, you have a brother?’ asks the incredulous Cher. Aiello says they have not spoken in five years but he must be invited to the wedding. So Cher goes to a great deal of trouble to locate and invite the brother, who turns out to be the young Nicholas Cage. He is pretty much of a slob to look at, but he is charming and passionate, and they fall in love at first sight. Cage is very good indeed at the part. So romantic complications arise. Meanwhile, Cher’s parents are having romantic complications of their own. She also has an eccentric grandfather who lives in the house but is in love with his five dogs, so that’s OK. He asks his dogs to howl at the moon, and they do. (The moon keeps recurring in the film and wakes everybody up because it is large and full and stirs the blood.) The screenplay of this film by John Patrick Shanley crackles with lively wit, sending off sparks of laughter and satirical asides like an exposed electric cable thrashing about in a storm. And then at the helm is the amazing Norman Jewison, one of Hollywood’s best. So this film is a classic, truly it is. They make such affectionate fun of the New York Sicilian Italian families and their quaint ways. (This would make a lot of sense to Nick Cage, who is a New York Sicilian Italian by origin. As for Cher, she seems to be ‘Armenian or something’.) Jews and Italians both have mamas and they understand each other, even though the Jews have the better sense of humour about it all. This film is so continuously hilarious and delightful that any attempt to review it, other than as a stand-up comic, is an insult. Anyone with joie de vivre (I know that’s not Italian, but I don’t know how to say joie de vivre in Italian, do you?) and a sense of fun, and who knows how to laugh, can only be ‘over the moon’ about MOONSTRUCK, as I have been all these years, and I’m still howling.