Moonstruck is a romantic comedy from 1987 that seems to have defined the genre itself. The film follows the magical misadventures of a lonely widow trying to find her place in love as she wanders around her small Italian community. Cher and Nicholas Cage’s performances are captivating as they bring warmth and heart to this well-paced script. It is a classic, uplifting cultural family comedy steeped in long traditions of love and marriage while playing with the mystical unknowns of the heart.
I remember seeing this film when I was young and not entirely understanding all the eye-rolling and hubbub of adults in love. Now that I am an adult, I look back at my young self and I understand love and relationships in a different way, but still found myself asking, seriously guys, what is it about this movie?
This piece is a middle of the road romantic comedy with performances that I could frankly swap out with any number of other actors in any number of other romantic comedies. The script is ironclad, however, and I sincerely felt as though the great writing carried the performances. I think that this is one of the first films that we look at when we think of the genre itself, so it carries the weight of all of the romantic comedies that have come after it that rely on its structure, pacing, themes, motifs, and tropes. So essentially, I know I can’t go back and watch this film as an adult in 1987, but today with my experience I felt like it was only an okay film based on the many others I have seen. If one considers it the modern vanguard for the entire genre, then I can easily accept that it deserves some of the praise it received.
Roger Ebert ironically referred to other reviewers of the film as downplaying it as a “madcap ethnic comedy.” He then examines the piece in terms of its great qualities of being a simple, well-executed romance. Truthfully, I think that watching it in hindsight and not in the context of the year it came out takes a lot away from the film. In 2017, is it funny? I didn’t find myself laughing out loud at it and much of the funny bits seemed dated or strangely ethno-family-centric in the context of the film in a way that I have absolutely no familiarity with. In 2017, was it romantic? A little… but I wasn’t always convinced. The script is strong, but the execution seems like the piece remains in a fantasy 1987 rather than a relatable reality. Sure, that’s the job of a movie, but I wonder if I would have been convinced better if we hadn’t been reminded so often and so blatantly by the writers and director that this love was so magical and mystical. Don’t tell me, make me believe it. Sure, I sat through it and enjoyed its sparkle, but it still felt pretty dated and flat to me. Maybe I’m just cynical… Strike that, I’m pretty darn cynical.
I’m not really sure what the hype is about, either. Worth the watch, if only for a baby-faced Nicholas Cage wearing next to nothing in the hot, sweaty bakery…. makin’ the bread. My favorite part of the movie were the scenes with Cher’s extended family, her parents, her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. There is some sharp dialogue with great timing there. I also enjoyed the great appearances of our favorite eighties hair and costumes. Cher’s makeover scene before they go to see Carmen is worth the price of admission alone. It’s a cute movie, and I would tell my friends to see it if they haven’t… But I wouldn’t buy a copy and sit down and watch it again like I would with similar comedies like Groundhog Day or You’ve Got Mail. It’s simply a little too dated and doesn’t hold up like many other movies that are even many more decades old. I felt like this one fell into too narrow of a niche, and unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding that was heavily steeped in the use of family, romance, and comedy, this one’s specificity seemed to detract from its staying power.