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The Real Spin
Cher's Oscar-winning performance in the reissued Moonstruck is bravissimo
by Ron Anders - SGN A&E Writer

"Snap out of it!!" yells a superstitious widow (Cher) to her besotted, crazily romantic lover (Nicolas Cage) in a classic scene from Norman Jewison's Moonstruck. But believe me, you won't want to snap out of the spell cast by this delicious romantic comedy - that looks and sounds as good today as when it first captured hearts in 1987. The film has just been reissued in a spiffy new Deluxe Edition DVD, finally in letterbox format, with some very entertaining extras.

For those of you who are new to Moonstruck (and I envy your experience of watching it for the first time!), the plot centers on Loretta Castorini, a no-nonsense woman who feels that bad luck follows her. She blames her husband's accidental death on the fact that they did not have a traditional church wedding. Loretta has walled herself off emotionally, but decides to re-marry - settling for a man that she likes, but is not in love with. While making her wedding plans, she meets her fiancé's brother. They fall in love - passionately, comically and (to Loretta's chagrin) very impractically.

Much of the film's pleasure comes from just watching Cher and Cage: two of the most gorgeous creatures on the planet. In her Oscar-winning role, Cher is at her most beautiful and magnetic, perfectly capturing Loretta's sweetness, disillusionment and yearning. Who expected such superb comic work from the woman who fashioned a career from sequins, feathers, and top-10 hits - and then demanded that we worship at her disco shrine?

Cage, as Ronny, registers very high on the swoon-o-meter. We first meet him, sweaty and grimy, shoveling coal in his bakery furnace. A short time later, after he takes Loretta to bed, we see the couple gazing out his Brooklyn tenement window, the full moon shining on them in all their romantic glory. It is definitely a goosebump moment.

The supporting cast is sheer bliss. Olympia Dukakis won an Oscar for her beautifully world-weary performance as Loretta's mother. She has her match in Vincent Gardenia, as her hilariously hapless husband in a later-life crisis.

The sweet jolt of this film is provided by the characters, all looking for love and passion: some with people they meet unexpectedly - others with spouses they have been with for many years. It is this rekindling of life and love (each with a capital "L") that makes Moonstruck such a sexy treat. Although there is nothing explicit in the film, you can feel the heat (and heart) of each character - whether they are in their twenties or sixties. Miraculously, the filmmakers have created a classic from what could have been an ordinary sitcom-like story. Beneath a deceptively simple screenplay are the structure of classic farce, an affectionate salute to Puccini's "La Boheme" and a soulful tribute to the importance of family.

The disc's special features, including three featurettes, are great fun. In addition to cast interviews, Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family contains amusing portraits of Italian-American couples who banter affectionately, describing the ups and downs of their lives together. In Music of Moonstruck, composer Dick Hyman talks about his creative debts to Puccini and Dean Martin. Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food is a mouth-watering tour of restaurants in Manhattan's Little Italy (watch it before dinner!). The package also includes recipe cards for culinary enthusiasts. On the commentary track (which is a holdover from the previous DVD release), we hear from Cher, director Norman Jewison, and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (author of Broadway's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Doubt"). The most entertaining remarks come from Shanley who, having grown up in a conservative Irish family, describes how he always envied the loving chaos of his Italian-American friends' households.

Everything about Moonstruck is operatic and larger-than-life, and that's how we like it. After watching it, you will find yourself in a deliriously romantic mood sighing, "Why can't life be more like Moonstruck"?

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