Moonstruck is one of the most enchanting films about love, passion, and life ever filmed. It is a genuine classic from the 1980's and deservedly has a large following of fans that still cherishes the magic display today. This is a work of art that helps to define the idea of what can truly be considered as 'timeless'. The result at the time of its 1987 theatrical release was Cher winning an Academy Award for her honest and believable performance as Loretta Castorini, Olympia Dukakis winning best supporting actress for her role as Loretta's mother Rose, and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (Joe Versus the Volcano, Doubt) winning best original screenplay. Did I forget to mention that film-maker Norman Jewison became nominated for Best Director or the fact that the film was also nominated for Best Picture? Yet I digress... Even with all the awards, positive critical responses, and fans the film has received over the years the truth is that this is one of those rare film's that should be able to speak for itself. Moonstruck only needs viewers willing to take the time to watch it and become swept away in the nearly perfect film-making.
The main plot of the story focuses itself around Loretta Castorini (Cher), a woman in her 30's who seems to have lost all faith in finding true love. In an early scene in the film, she is proposed to by a respectable man who seems to have taken a fancy in her (he seems to contemplate the idea of proposing only once at their evening dinner date), and who goes by the name of Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello). She accepts the proposal, but reminds him to ask her on his knees and to give her some kind of ring (and Johnny then pulls one of his own rings off of a finger and hand's it to her). The scene is far from romantic, but it shows two people seemingly settling for what they may believe is best for them. When Loretta discusses the engagement with her mother Rose (Olympia Dukakis) she confesses that she doesn't love him - but that she does like him. Rose seems to think that is best as she loves her husband, Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) who she knows is having an affair. Johnny soon leaves the country for an important family issue, and while away Loretta decides to speak to his estranged Brother Ronnie (Nicolas Cage) who he hasn't spoken to in years. What are the odds Loretta might fall for Johnny's brother Ronnie? Apparently, there might be better odds than one would expect. This naturally helps to complicate matters and makes the film all the more entertaining and comedic as it begins to analyze the relationships that are found between the characters in looking into these lives and loves.
To make one thing readily apparent: it is necessary to reflect on how purely brilliant the comedy is. The script by John Patrick Shanley is absolutely stellar and it works wonders at getting the best performances possible out of the actors, who seem to understand exactly how to make their scenes as comedic and heartfelt as possible at all times. Cher fully deserved her Oscar win, and Nicolas Cage delivered one of his greatest screen performances at the time (and it is still one of his best efforts). This is also, no doubt, a result of the incredible direction by Norman Jewison, who without hesitation I would say absolutely managed to craft one of his finest and most memorable films -- and this is largely in part because of how much devotion he brings to these characters in each and every impeccable frame. There is a genuine thoughtfulness given to the characters and the actors who portray them in both the screenplay and direction.
What truly makes Moonstruck so timeless though is how unique the film's portrayal of love is. Indeed... Love is unexpected, messy, confusing, and ultimately important above all other things. Many standard romantic comedies fail to truly portray this aspect, and that is one of the reasons everything feels more realistic in Moonstruck. It is largely because of how truthful the film is while still managing to be a hilarious romp that it can manage to make the viewers sympathize with characters who are truly going through romantic roller-coaster rides themselves. That's a joy to behold and appreciate forever in this cinematic gold-mine.
Moonstruck is presented in 1080p with an AVC MPEG-4 transfer encoded at 40 MBPS. The feature is in the original theatrical exhibition ratio of 1:85:1 as intended by the film-makers. The picture quality is generally quite pleasing and consistently impressive. The biggest improvement over the DVD release seems to be in clarity of detail and depth of color. The film occasionally manages to show it's age (there are instances of dirt and debris in the print) with moderate print damage, but it is rare and never enough to become a distraction that detracts from the experience. There is a healthy level of film-grain that seems appropriate for the film and is much appreciated to see in opposition to a poorly transferred and DNR manipulated mess. Truthfully, if there had been more restoration work done to the film we might have had a slightly better image overall but this is still leaps and bounds better than previous DVD editions regardless and a worthwhile upgrade.
The film is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound option of the original English language, in addition to including French Dolby Digital, and Spanish Mono sound mixes. The audio doesn't fare quite as well as the video does as far as being a substantial upgrade. It is a moderate improvement in clarity and about as impressive as I ever expected from this kind of film. However, it is clear that the surround mix resulted from the original source - which was not dynamic in the same way any modern productions would have. The music has the biggest effect on the surrounds and is enchanting to hear with the lossless audio. English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, Spanish, and French subtitles are also included.
The extras for the Moonstruck Blu-ray release seem to consist entirely of the bonus materials previously included on a Deluxe Edition DVD release. While it is disappointing that there are no new extras, the good news is that what is included is entertaining and worthwhile. Fans who only owned the earlier DVD releases will certainly find a substantial improvement in extras. There is an audio commentary with contributions by Cher, Norman Jewison, and John Patrick Shanley. While it is unfortunate that the included commentary is comprised of separate recordings with each contributor the track itself was edited appropriately and includes a lot of information about the making of the film.
There are also a handful of enjoyable and well-produced featurettes. The first feature, entitled 'Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family' features interviews with members of the cast and film-makers and also highlights memorable behind-the-scenes material that is entertaining. This feature runs around 25 minutes. A second feature entitled "Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food" is more or less what you might expect to see from an extra with a title like that. It's not really directly in correlation with the film itself, but it would be an enjoyable view for any food fans wanting to explore the food delights found in the same area the film is set in. That extra runs approximately 30 minutes. Lastly, the extras are rounded out with a short but sweet "Music of Moonstruck" piece that is about the original score by Dick Hyman. It only runs around 6 minutes, but covers a decent amount of ground. MGM has also included the original theatrical trailer in high definition.
Moonstruck is one of the best and most beloved romantic comedies from the 1980's. The film still stands as a crowning achievement for all involved and should be capable of bringing in new audiences to its unique charms. Both the video and audio receive reasonable upgrades with this Blu-ray release, though the extras are only ported over from a previous special edition DVD. Highly Recommended, and well worth a double-dip for fans.