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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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).