Norman Jewison’s film is a mostly appetizing blend of comedy and drama carried by snappy dialog and a wonderful ensemble full of familiar faces. Leads Cher and Nicolas Cage are both solid and appealing, but it’s the pic’s older lovers # especially the splendidly controlled Olympia Dukakis # who give Moonstruck its endearing spirit.
Cher is Loretta Castorini, a vaguely dour, superstitious widow who believes her previous marriage # she was wed at City Hall, her father didn’t give her away, her husband was killed when he was hit by a bus # was felled by bad luck.
Film begins with her accepting a wedding proposal, on bended knee, from the altogether unprepossessing Johnny Cammareri (Tony Aiello), who shortly thereafter heads off to Sicily to be at the bedside of his dying mother.
Loretta, resigned to accepting mediocrity (she admits to her mother that she doesn’t love Johnny) for the sake of security, receives a shock upon meeting his kid brother. Cage’s Ronny is a brooding, vital, angry, barely contained force haunted by his past.
In Rose Castorini (Loretta’s mother), Dukakis fleshes out a good, tired woman who is nothing less than mystified by the actions of her husband, and what her response should be. It’s a warm, lyrical performance, that provides the finest moments in the film.
1987: Best Actress (Cher), Supp. Actress (Olympia Dukakis), Original Screenplay.
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actor (Vincent Gardenia)