Film: Moonstruck

"The storybooks are bullshit!"

The story of your typical Italian American family living in New York. Loretta (Cher), a widow in her late thirties who has moved back in with her parents since the death of her husband, accepts a proposal from her bumbling boyfriend Johnny (Danny Aiello), who suddenly has to leave in order to visit his dying mother in Sicily. While he's away, Loretta tries to convince Johnny's estranged brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to give up their feud and come to the upcoming wedding, but accidentally falls for him. At the same time, Loretta's father (Vincent Gardenia) is having a secret affair while her mother (Olympia Dukakis) ponders the skirt-chasing mentality of men. Hilarity Ensues.

Notable for getting Cher, Dukakis and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley Academy Awards. Notable further for the fact that the acting awards, for a spot-on depiction of a big Italian family, went to the non-Italian actors. Italian Vincent Gardenia did get nominated, but didn't win.


  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Ronny to Loretta.
    Ronny: Loretta, I love you. Not, not like they told you love is and I didn't know this either. But love don't make things nice, it ruins everything! It breaks your heart, it makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. Snowflakes are perfect, stars are perfect. Not us! Not US! We are here to ruin ourselves and... and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and... and DIE... I mean, I mean the storybooks are BULLSHIT. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and... and GET in my bed. Come on, come on, come on...
  • Animal Motif: Ronny resembles a wolf before he cleans up for the opera, which makes sense since Loretta calls him a wolf and the original title of the film was The Bride and the Wolf.
  • Arc Words: "Why do men chase women?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: One of the best examples in all of filmdom, though it'd more like Littering, Murder and Jaywalking. Loretta in confession.
    "I took the name of the Lord in vain, I slept with the brother of my fiancee, and I bounced a check at the liquor store."
  • At the Opera Tonight: Ronny takes Loretta to La Bohème. They're both dressed up and enjoy the performance a lot.
  • Better as Friends: Strongly implied about Loretta and Johnny.
  • Cool Old Guy: Grandpa. (Also played by a non-Italian.)
  • Distinguishing Mark: Nic Cage's character has a wooden hand after an accident in the bakery. (He still has the palm of his hand, so premuably he lost all of his fingers.)
  • Eureka Moment: "Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!" (Not that she didn't always know the answer.)
  • Foreshadowing: The opening scenes show trucks delivering props to The Met for La Bohème, the same performance that Loretta, Sonny, Cosmo and Mona attend.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself Man: When Ronny tells Loretta he loves her, she slaps him and yells "Snap out of it!" This is the movie's Signature Scene.
  • Happily Ever After: Everyone has a happy ending, even Johnny.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • A guy in a restaurant gets drinks splashed in his face. He orders vodka. The waiter says he deserves one.
    • Loretta asks for whisky when she meets with Ronny and they have dinner.
  • Insistent Terminology: Listen carefully to Ronny. For example, he doesn't take Loretta to bed - he takes her to THE bed, as if it were a ritual or a meaningful part of an opera.
  • Italians Talk With Hands: They all gesticulate heavily.
  • Lady in Red: Loretta during her opera date with Ronny.
    Ronny: ...thank you.
Mona also goes in a similar outfit, driving home to Loretta she's Not So Different from her, though while she's still single (albeit engaged), Cosmo is married.
  • Large Ham: Cage just nearly borders on this during his first scene where he explains his hatred for his brother, but slides back into being genuine. It helps that the characters react to him in a similar way as the audience would, giving the character just a more Large Ham persona. It's been noted that Ronny is operatic - he loves opera, and literally performs his life (see Insistent Terminology). He has plenty of more human, quiet moments.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Practically the Trope Codifier.
  • Momma's Boy: Johnny ("Johnny Camareri? He's a big baby.")
  • Multigenerational Household: It's in jeopardy, however, when it seems Loretta is going to marry Johnny, since Rose says she might as well sell the house because Johnny won't move in because Cosmo hates him. That doesn't seem to be an issue when Ronny is going to marry her, however.
  • Not So Different: The film makes it clear that Loretta takes after Cosmo, and not Rose.
  • One True Love: Loretta had it once, lost it, and has settled with Johnny.
    Ronny: You waited for the right man the first time, why didn't you wait for the right man again?
    Loretta: He didn't come
    Ronny: I'm here!
    Loretta: You're late.
  • Percussive Therapy: Ronny violently smacks some stuff to relieve stress when he tells Loretta his backstory.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Well, when you're awoken by two family members in the middle of the night for important news, wouldn't your first reaction be, "Who's dead?"
  • Running Gag: "You're got a love bite on your neck."
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Loretta takes the grays out and gets the full beauty treatment, she goes from a nice middle-aged pretty to stunning.
  • Shout-Out: Rose quips, "It ain't over til it's over!", a reference to one of Yogi Berra's quotes.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Ronny & Loretta (reportedly an example of Enforced Method Acting).
    Loretta: Snap out of it!
  • Unreveal Angle:
    • When Ronny first appears, the audience sees just his back.
    • The priest in the confessional. Only his hands are seen.
  • Weird Moon: It's unnaturally large after Ronny sleeps with Loretta. Raymond calls it "Cosmo's moon" (the last time he saw it so huge was when Cosmo was courting Rose.)
  • Women Are Wiser: Played with. Loretta is a mess, but Rose, when given an opportunity to have a fling herself, declines politely, saying, "I know who I am."
  • Your Cheating Heart: Loretta's father dates Mona. Rose, his wife senses he has an affair.