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…love don't make things nice - it ruins everything.
It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess.

In my humble opinion, MOONSTRUCK ($20) is one of the best films of the 1980's. Hey, let us not forget the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and it took home an Oscar for its humorous screenplay. Even without the awards and nominations, MOONSTRUCK is a joyous, life affirming film about the crazy power of love. Set inside an Italian household in Brooklyn Heights, MOONSTRUCK stars Cher as Loretta Castorini, a 37-year-old widow who is looking to get re-married. To reach her goal, Loretta forgoes love and accepts a marriage proposal from Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello); a man she thinks will make a good provider and a good companion. Right after he proposes to Loretta, Johnny has to fly to Sicily to see his mother one final time before the elderly woman dies. While he is gone, Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to their wedding.

To fulfill Johnny’s request, Loretta goes to see Ronny; however, the wedding invitation only infuriates Ronny. It seems that several years ago, Ronny had an accident for which he blames Johnny. The accident cost Ronny part of his hand, as well as the hand of the woman he was about to marry. Loretta tells Ronny that the accident was his own fault because he is like a wild animal that would chew off his own foot (hand) to avoid being caught in a trap. The trap being marriage to the wrong woman. Of course, this only serves to infuriate Ronny even further. In his worked up state, Ronny grabs hold of Loretta and kisses her. It is in this instant that Loretta finds all the passion missing from her life and kisses Ronny back. Of course, this complicates matters for Loretta, who is still wants to go through with her marriage to Johnny.

The plot of MOONSTRUCK sounds melodramatic because Italians are very melodramatic people. However, much of the film’s warm, good humor is generated by the character’s melodramatic reactions to their circumstances. Behind the melodrama, MOONSTRUCK paints a vivid portrait of Italian family life, as well as the importance of family. While writer John Patrick Shanley’s screenplay vividly draws each of the film’s characters, it is the actor’s brilliant performances that truly make MOONSTRUCK soar. Cher is absolutely delightful as Loretta. Cher truly deserved her Best Actress Oscar for bringing to life a woman who rediscovers love and passion when she least expects it. Olympia Dukakis also took home a well-deserved Academy Award, for her wonderfully rich portrayal of Loretta’s no-nonsense mother Rose. Not only does Dukakis get some of the film’s best lines; she also gets most of the biggest laughs for her dead on delivery. Nicolas Cage delivers the film’s most melodramatic performance, but he does bring to life the passion that is truly Italian. Danny Aiello is utterly perfect as the mama’s boy who proposes to Loretta and Vincent Gardenia is wonderful as Loretta philandering father. Special praise has to go to Feodor Chaliapin Jr. for his memorable and very amusing performance as Loretta’s befuddled elderly grandfather. The cast of MOONSTRUCK also includes Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney, Louis Guss and Anita Gillette.

MGM Home Entertainment, through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, has made MOONSTRUCK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is really quite nice for a late 1980’s movie. Image sharpness and fine detail are very good, even if the picture doesn’t produce the absolute razor sharpness of newer movies. Some sequences appear sharper than others, but this inherent in the film stocks, lighting and the lenses used for the film’s cinematography. Colors appear warm and are rendered with respectable saturation and realistic flesh tones. Blacks are inky, and whites appear clean. Contrast is generally smooth, while shadow detail is sometimes a bit limited, but usually holds its own. The elements from which MOONSTRUCK has been transferred appear quite clean. Modest grain is ever-present, which helps maintain a film-like quality of the presentation.

MOONSTRUCK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that MOONSTRUCK is talky comedy that was produced during the Dolby Surround era, it should come as no surprise that the film features a somewhat restrained sound design. Since MOONSTRUCK is primarily dialogue driven, much of the sound is localized front and center. There are channel separations across the front, as well as modest surround integration for ambience and musical fill. Thanks to the lossless encode, the film’s musical component is nicely enhanced and demonstrates a good presence. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always easy to understand. A French Dolby Digital 2.0 channel, plus a Spanish monaural track have also been encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Norman Jewison, leading actress Cher and writer John Patrick Shanley. Fans will love the talk, since it is filled with many choice tidbits. Featurettes and other programs include: Moonstruck: At The Heart Of An Italian Family (twenty five minutes), Pasta To Pastries: The Art Of Fine Italian Food (six segments, thirty minutes total) and The Music Of Moonstruck (six minutes).

MOONSTRUCK is a delightful gem of a movie that has been nicely upgraded on Blu-ray. While not a demo disc, MOONSTRUCK looks and sounds just right on Blu-ray for a movie of this vintage. Recommended.


Moonstruck [Blu-ray] (1987)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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