I'm saddened that it's taken me until now to watch 'Moonstruck.' In 1987 I wasn't old enough to care about a romantic comedy, and when I got older I was never interested in Cher. 'Moonstruck' slipped under my radar until right now.
Imagine if a movie came out today starring Cher (who just starred in the dreadful 'Burlesque') and Nicolas Cage. Would people be interested in that movie, or would they laugh the very thought of it right out of the theaters? Truthfully, Cher and Cage have become caricatures of themselves. Cage, while I still love just about everything he does (he's one of those actors who's not afraid to lay it all out there), is an actor that many people dislike or find creepy. With that said, does anyone take Cher seriously anymore? I know I never really did, and the awful previews for 'Burlesque' never really helped her image. After watching 'Moonstruck' though, I came to the realization that Cher is an acting force. That's right, I can't believe I typed that sentence either. If only she was given more roles as an Italian woman full of guilt and self-pity.
In 1988 'Moonstruck' was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Norman Jewison). It ended up walking away with three of those six; Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.
Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a strong Italian woman who has been saddled with guilt and remorse her whole life, although, she doesn't really let it show. She's figured that after the death of her first husband, settling for the next guy that comes along is what she'll do. The next guy that comes along is Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello). Loretta's mother, Rose (Olympia Dukakis) asks her "Do you love him?" "No," she answers. "Good," responds her mother, "When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can."
For Loretta, it's all about settling. She's fine with marrying Johnny, there's nothing better on the horizon anyway. Not until Johnny sends Loretta to find his estranged brother Ronny (Cage). The two had a falling out years back, but Johnny wants his brother at the wedding no matter what. Loretta and Ronny soon fall head over heels for each other.
It's easy to see why 'Moonstruck' took home the Best Original Screenplay (for writer John Patrick Shanley). This is one of the funniest films I've had the pleasure of watching for a long time. Its warm sense of humor grows on you throughout the movie. The wonderful ensemble cast works beautifully with each other to create a romantic comedy that seems to eschew clichés at every turn. Cage is at his finest here. He's able to channel the absolute nuttiest personality that he can muster by playing an opera-loving man with wooden fingers on one hand.
'Moonstruck' is quirky and lovable. Its loud-mouthed Italian characters are endearing and reminded me of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,' if, you know, that movie had had loving and endearing characters in it. It's heartfelt, whimsical, and for the most part downright hilarious. Do yourself a favor and revisit this movie, or if you've slacked off like me, watch it for the first time and fall in love with it just like I did.
Sure there are other catalog releases out there that may look much better than 'Moonstruck' on Blu-ray, but the 1080p picture provided by Fox here – with the help of an AVC encode – really brings this 80s classic to life.
While flecks and specks pop up occasionally, the film looks like it's aged quite well. A fine layer of grain settles on the picture giving it that oh-so-important filmic quality. DNR looks like it hasn't been used egregiously here, and if it has, it was very carefully applied. Colors are strong, some of the bright neon colors that people so haphazardly wore during that time jump off the screen. Skintones are always natural looking, and even reveal some fine facial lines. Blacks are even and deep throughout. They don't really approach that bottomless black that we sometimes take for granted in the newer Blu-ray presentations, but for a film of its age the blacks here are more than suitable. Contrast seems slightly subdued, but I think we can just chalk that up to the film's age. Other than that, I didn't notice any encoding errors. Banding, aliasing, and blocking are all kept at bay.
Fox has seen fit to pair 'Moonstruck' up with a DTS-HD MA lossless audio presentation that helps the viewer enjoy the movie that much more.
Being front-heavy with dialogue, 'Moonstruck' is still able to crank out a few immersive scenes, like the opera sequence that features strong vocals up front, but the rear channels do come alive during audience applause. The dialogue is provided crisply and clearly through the front and center channels. Directionality is key here, because people continuously talk over one another, even if they're out of frame. At times, all of the front channels are alive with talk-happy Italians discussing just about everything happening in their lives. Still, even with the cacophony of voices each person can be heard and understood. Whispers are even intelligible. LFE isn't much of a factor here, but the movie never really calls for it.
With 'Moonstruck' it was better late than never for me. A delightful little romantic comedy that can be watched over and over again. Given the right part, Cher is as good an actress as anyone out there. She makes playing Loretta look effortless. Cage is his same wacky self here, and it works perfectly. It's easy to see why this movie took home so many Awards come Oscar time. Fans will be pleased with the pleasant video and audio presentations, you'll never use them for demo material, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything to complain about when you watch this Blu-ray. I'd recommend this release to anyone.