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MGM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Norman Jewison
Cast:
Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney, Louis Guss
Writing Credits:
John Patrick Shanley

Tagline:
Life. Family. Love.

Synopsis:
In this glowingly atmospheric comedy, a young Italian-American woman, bitter after having been widowed by a speeding bus, makes a practical decision to marry a longtime friend for stability and security, even though her feelings for him are tepid at best. But when she falls in love with her fiance's estranged one-handed younger brother, screwball sparks fly.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$127.599 thousand on 7 screens.
Domestic Gross
$80.640 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Monaural
French Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 2/15/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Norman Jewison, Writer John Patrick Shanley and Actor Cher
• “Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family” Featurette
• “Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food” Featurette
• “Music of Moonstruck” Featurette
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Moonstruck [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 22, 2011)

Few musicians made the leap to the big screen as successfully as Cher. By the early 80s, her pop career had stalled so she moved toward acting. This led to a major reinvention, as Cher quickly became an “A”-list actor – and found her as an Oscar winner for 1987’s Moonstruck.

Middle-aged widow Loretta Castorini (Cher) usually acts as a major pragmatist, but when boyfriend Johnny Cammereri (Danny Aiello) proposes to her, she indulges her less practical side. She and her first husband married at city hall, and she feels this cursed the union and led to his accidental demise. Loretta wants a more traditional wedding this time, so she and Johnny set the date for a month later, after Johnny returns from a visit to his sick mother in Sicily.

Before he leaves, Johnny asks Loretta to contact his estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) and invite him to the wedding. This leads to internal conflict for Loretta. She doesn’t really love Johnny, but she stays with him because he’s safe and practical. On the other hand, Ronny provides a lot more spark and passion – as well as a much lower sense of security. Loretta needs to choose which path to take.

As I noted earlier, Cher won an Oscar for her work as Loretta, and I’d find it tough to argue against that prize. The divaest of divas, Cher does a remarkable job of subsuming her ego and sense of flair for the drab Loretta. Sure, the movie allows her to blossom and approximate her real Cherness later in the story, but Loretta still spends most of the flick as a graying, somewhat boring personality. Cher delivers a surprisingly full, ego-free take on the role; she brings Loretta to life in a three-dimensional manner.

Cage doesn’t do the same for Ronny, but that’s fine with me. Has any talented actor squandered his skills as much as Cage? He’s acted in so many awful action flicks over the last 10 years that I’d started to forget why I used to like him so much.

Moonstruck reminds me of his skills. Of course, Cage was always a big actor, so don’t expect Ronny to be the world’s most believable personality. However, the film goes for a grand theatrical sensibility much of the time anyway – its allusions to opera ensure that – and Cage’s Ronny fits this world well. He’s a scenery-chewing delight.

Beyond the cast – which includes a number of other solid performers – I find less about Moonstruck to love. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it; I just think that it tries a little too hard to be a fable, and it seems somewhat overwrought in that regard. Aside from Cage’s performance, it goes for cartoony too much when it should stay in the real world more often.

Still, Moonstruck does more right than wrong. Would it be entertaining with a lesser cast? No – the actors redeem some questionable material. It ends up as an enjoyable romantic comedy, though.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Moonstruck appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. If someday I have kids who ask me “Daddy, what did film stocks look like in the 80s?” I’ll trot out Moonstruck.

So don’t expect a whole lot of vivid visuals here, as the movie showed the standard sense of 80s blandness. That affected virtually everything I saw, starting with sharpness. At times, the movie was able to display good delineation, but much of it veered toward mild mushiness. Though the flick was never really soft, it lacked much crispness or bite.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and I sensed no edge haloes. Source flaws were an occasional problem, though, as the movie suffered from a mix of specks, spots and marks. Oddly, most of these cropped up during interior shots of Cage and Cher at the apartment; those were easily the messiest scenes in the movie.

Colors displayed the standard 80s muddiness. Though the hues occasionally displayed decent vivacity, they usually appeared bland, and skin tones tended to be heavy and reddish. Blacks were adequate, and shadows showed acceptable clarity. Nothing here looked awful, but the image betrayed its roots and was consistently mediocre.

To my surprise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Moonstruck displayed a high level of activity – maybe a little too high for a romantic comedy, especially in the mix’s use of music. The songs tended to spread all around the room, and I found the presence of music in the rear speakers to create an occasional distraction.

Still, the track was usually pretty lively and engrossing. It displayed effects with nice breadth and location, as the movie used these elements more actively than expected. Unlike the music, though, the effects weren’t a distraction; while they could seem a bit unnatural, they worked well given the movie’s age.

Audio quality was also dated but fine. Speech seemed a little reedy but was intelligible and reasonably natural. Music varied due to the nature of the period recordings. The songs could seem thin at times, but they displayed adequate range. Effects were also occasionally a bit on the rough side, but they showed fair clarity overall. Though this was never a great track, it was a bit above average for its age and genre.

We get a decent set of extras here. These launch with an audio commentary from director Norman Jewison, writer John Patrick Shanley and actor Cher. All three sit separately for this edited, mostly screen-specific look at the opening sequence, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, editing and story, cinematography, music and other areas.

While it acts as a minor disappointment that the three participants don’t chat together, the quality of the material more than compensates. We get a nice array of details about the project, and the program meshes together well. This creates a lively, informative piece that gives us a fine look at the film.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find three featurettes. Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family runs 25 minutes, 29 seconds and includes notes from Jewison, Shanley, Cher, actors Olympia Dukakis, Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney, Vincent Gardenia, Danny Aiello and Nicolas Cage, production designer Philip Rosenberg, and married couples Tom and Susan Conte, Steve and Angela Dolcemaschio, Fred and Rose Donato, John and Toni Deliso, and John and Emily Deliso. “Heart” examines the roots of the project and its development, characters and influences, cast and performances, sets, and aspects of Italian families.

The inclusion of the married couples really acts as little more than a gimmick to tie into the program’s title; those folks barely appear and don’t add much. For the most part, this is a pretty standard “making of” show, and it’s a fairly good one. Sure, we get some of the same info from the commentary – along with Jewison’s awful Sean Connery impression – but the show brings out a reasonable amount of new info and delivers a quality experience.

Pastas to Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food goes for 30 minutes, seven seconds and gives us a tour with TV host Mark DeCarlo. He takes us through various NYC Italian restaurants; along the way, we meet Chef Elvin Molina, Italian Food Center owner George Mastra, Ferrara Pastries owner Ernest Lepone, Piemonte Ravioli manager Elizabeth Amaro, gelato server “Moufid”, Florio’s Restaurant owner Lawrence Amoruso, and Florio’s chef Joseph Prete. Molina cooks a bunch of recipes, while the others discuss their specialties. If you like cooking programs, you’ll dig this; if not, you’ll be bored.

Finally, we locate the six-minute, 24-second Music of Moonstruck. It features Shanley, Jewison, Aiello, Rosenberg and composer Dick Hyman. They discuss the score and other musical elements. We get a tight, informative piece here.

While the movie’s broadness occasionally nips at its heels, the actors of Moonstruck ensure that it’ll succeed. They add bite and verve to a film that could’ve easily been a misbegotten farce. The Blu-ray provides erratic, often flawed visuals, decent audio and a mix of generally positive supplements. Moonstruck turns into an entertaining flick, but the Blu-ray’s picture quality makes it a disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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