Singers and songwriters make their leap onto the big screen all too often, and most of them flounder in poorly made movies that everyone has moved on and forgotten about. Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Whitney Houston, the list is quite frankly endless. There are a small handful, though, that have had a great deal of success, and rightly so. Lady Gaga crafted a great leading role in another remake of A Star is Born, and it’s no surprise that her performance hooked me on a question of whether or not there were other great musicians who had also given us great movie performances. My search brought me to Cher’s Academy Award winning performance in 1987’s Moonstruck.
Having not listened to much of Cher’s music (intentionally), believing that she had the ability to perform in the leading role of Moonstruck was rather easy. It follows Loretta Castorini (Cher) as she seeks out the brother of her fiancé, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), to invite him to their wedding. Bad blood prevents brothers Johnny and Ronny (Nicolas Cage) from speaking to one another, but the love at first sight attraction between Ronny and Loretta is the main focus of this feature film.
We’re lucky we have two talented performers at the helm of the movie to make such an intrinsically usual angle work so well. The resentment they first have for one another is well placed, and their interactions thrive on their anger towards common interests. All of this comes together in a believably enjoyable manner that dominates much of the screen. Cage and Cher have a great deal of chemistry with one another, and their performances are truly worthy of the acclaim and interest they received. Cage chews the scenery a little too much at times, but he brings it round with a great performance alongside an undeniably brilliant Cher.
Maybe the charm of this movie comes from its stereotypical 80s feeling. Its lighting and direction scream the iconography of the 80s, and it makes for a very relaxed and enjoyable viewing. We have the typically overbearing parents, the lovers and the rivalries that follow. Each supporting character is nicely fleshed out, not too broad to overtake that of the films main focus, but enjoyable enough to provide slight distractions. We can go a fair few minutes without having to check in on what Cher is up to every other scene, and it breaks up the storylines of the movie very nicely.
Moonstruck isn’t a movie I thought would be for me, what with its flamboyantly basic premise and a storyline that suffers from its simplicity. Luckily though, a great script and a superbly talented cast of actors and greats are on hand to lend themselves to a film that shouldn’t work. It does though, and it works mightily well. Deserving of its acclaim entirely, Moonstruck holds up after all those many years of being left in the dust for the next generation of musicians turned mainstream film stars.