DVD Review: Moonstruck Deluxe Edition

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Marketers aren’t just fooling around when they release the deluxe edition of the DVD of “Moonstruck” at Valentine’s Day, the way one might target an arrow at a viewer’s heart. The film, first released in 1987, is a primer in the romantic comedy genre. At it‘s heart is Cher‘s Oscar-winning performance as Loretta Castorini, a young, independent-minded Italian-American widowed bookkeeper who’s agrees to a marriage of convenience to an older man (Danny Aiello) but inadvertently becomes undeniably smitten with his younger brother (Nicholas Cage), an unconventional one-handed, opera-loving baker. Further complications come in the form of family wisdom, obligations and expectations– so deftly delivered by Olympia Dukakis (who also won an Oscar) as Loretta’s conventionally old-fashioned mom who wants her daughter to do what she considers proper and practical, but also is, at the same time, trying to work out her own romantic issues with her husband (beautifully portrayed by Vincent Gardenia).

Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley won an Oscar for sorting out the comic intrigue and so convincingly capturing a universality of human truths within the context of middle-class Italian-American lifestyle and social values. Norman Jewison’s direction of the brilliantly funny, truthful and, most importantly, endearing script is flawless. You can’t help falling in love with “Moonstruck.”

The DVD’s extra selling points– as if the movie’s charm wouldn’t be enough– are a delightful commentary by director Norman Jewison, screenwriter John Patrick Shanley and Cher, plus a short doc entitled “Moonstruck at the Heart of An Italian Family,“ a featurette about the film’s wonderful music (it’s Puccini– played to great effect) and bits about Italian cuisine– including a map of New York’s Little Italy and recipes for Italian delights (yet another route– via the stomach– to the viewer’s heart).

Most remarkable is the DVD’s audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, which delivers excerpts from “La Boheme” (featuring Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi) and Dean Martin’s rendition of “That’s Amore” in suitable high quality. The music is great! Dialogue can be heard in English and French, and there are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Jennifer Merin

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