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a hilarious family comedy
This movie is a delight - a zany comedy about an Italian family that I'll be happy to revisit over and over again. Lots of quotable lines, and Cher does a fantastic job.
|Nicolas Cage||Ronny Cammareri|
|Vincent Gardenia||Cosmo Castorini|
|Olympia Dukakis||Rose Castorini|
|Danny Aiello||John Cammareri|
|Julie Bovasso||Rita Cappomaggi|
|Louis Guss||Raymond Capomaggi|
|Feodor Chaliapin Jr.||Alter Mann|
|Theoni V. Aldredge||Costume Design|
|David Watkin||Director of Photography|
|Patrick J. Palmer||Producer|
|Dick Hyman||Original Music Composer|
|Philip Rosenberg||Production Design|
|Bonnie Palef||Production Manager|
|John Patrick Shanley||Screenplay|
Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini (Cher), an Italian American widow, is an accountant for a few local businesses in Brooklyn Heights, New York. She lives in a large, comfortable house with her parents: Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) a successful plumber, Rose (Olympia Dukakis) and her grandfather, Cosmo's father (Feodor Chaliapin, Jr.). Her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), proposes to her over dinner in a neighborhood Italian restaurant, The Grand Ticino, before leaving for Sicily to attend to his dying mother. She agrees on the condition that he must observe the formalities of kneeling and presenting a ring because she considers that her previous marriage was cut short because they hadn't observed them. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding. Loretta drives Johnny to the airport, then stops at a liquor store for a bottle of champagne, where she hears the proprietors bickering, the wife accusing the husband of being "a wolf."
At home, Cosmo is listening to Vicki Carr's recording of "It Must Be Him" and brooding. Loretta pours them a drink and shares her news. Cosmo points out that she married before and it didn't work out. Loretta says that she had bad luck, that her husband was hit by a bus. She believes the bad luck was caused by her not having had a real wedding. Cosmo had not approved, and they had gotten married at City Hall, with no party, dress, no cake... and had bad luck. He agrees. She tells him she has to have a "real" wedding this time. They wake Rose to tell her the news. She asks Loretta if she loves Johnny. Loretta says no, but she likes him. Rose says that is good, "When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can."
The next morning as Loretta and Rose have breakfast, Johnny calls from Sicily where his mother is dying. He hasn't told her about his engagement yet. Loretta urges him not to wait until she is dead. He reminds Loretta of her promise to visit Ronny. She visits the bakery that Ronny owns. He explains the reason for the bad blood: Ronny had been engaged to a woman, and during that time Johnny had come in one day to buy bread. Ronny talked to Johnny as he sliced the bread and wasn't paying attention, and he lost his hand in the slicer. His fiancée left him because he was "maimed." Ronny blames Johnny for the accident. He is very upset. Loretta tells him she has not come to upset him but to talk. They go to his apartment above the bakery and Loretta cooks him a meal and they drink whiskey and talk. Loretta tells Ronny that he is a "wolf" who allowed himself to lose his hand rather than be caught in a trap. Ronny sweeps Loretta into bed, and they make love.
That night an amazing full moon shines over the couples in the story. In the morning, Loretta feels ashamed and tells Ronny they can never see each other again. He admits he's fallen in love but agrees to not see her again--if she will go to the opera with him that night, because then he would have had the two things he loves most, the opera and Loretta. She agrees to meet him at the Met.
That day Loretta goes to a beauty salon and has her hair colored and styled, her eyebrows plucked--a complete makeover. She shops for a beautiful gown and shoes. She stops at the church to go to confession, telling the priest that she has slept with her fiancé's brother. The priest urges her to "consider her life." She sees Rose sitting in the church, and they talk. Rose tells her that Cosmo is seeing another woman. Loretta does not believe her. Meanwhile, Cosmo is having lunch at a fancy restaurant with his mistress Mona (Anita Gillette). He presents her with a gift of a gold bracelet.
There is a scene that evening where Loretta plays romantic music as she leisurely dresses for the opera and then takes a cab to meet Ronny at the Met. He is wearing a tux and they are both transformed. Loretta is deeply moved by her first opera, Puccini's La Bohème.
That night Rose dines alone at The Grand Ticino and witnesses a dramatic breakup between a young coed and a college professor named Perry (John Mahoney). She invites Perry to dine with her; afterwards he walks her home. She knows her husband has a mistress but refuses to be unfaithful and doesn't take Perry's suggestion that she invite him in "because I know who I am."
As Loretta and Ronny leave the opera, she sees Cosmo with Mona; both Loretta and Cosmo are shocked to see the other with someone other than their proper partner, but they agree to ignore the fact that they saw each other. Loretta and Ronny stop at a bar for a drink. Loretta is upset about Cosmo's infidelity and feels guilty for being with Ronny. She explains to him how a person can decide to do things differently and change. But he desperately and passionately persuades her into another tryst.
Meanwhile, Johnny's mother has made a miraculous recovery after being told of his plans to marry Loretta, and he has returned from Sicily unexpectedly, stopping at Loretta's house on his way back from the airport. Rose tells him that Loretta is out, she doesn't know where. While they have the opportunity to talk, Rose asks him why men cheat on women. First he suggests that it might have something to do with Adam looking for his missing rib, but Rose lays out her opinion that the real reason is fear of death. While they are talking, Cosmo comes home from the opera. Rose says to him, "I just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna die just like everyone else."
Loretta arrives home the following morning, having spent another night with Ronny. Rose is alone in the kitchen and tells her that Johnny has come back from Italy and will be there soon and remarks that Loretta has a love bite on her neck. As they wait, Ronny arrives. Rose lets him in and looks at his neck where she sees a love bite. Rose invites Ronny to stay for breakfast, and he accepts before Loretta can stop him. Cosmo and the grandfather come down for breakfast. Cosmo's father tells him that he must pay for Loretta's wedding this time, and sits down. As they all sit around the table, Rose asks Cosmo if she has been a good wife, and when he tells her yes she tells Cosmo that she wants him to stop seeing his mistress. After hesitating, he agrees to, but complains that his life is worth nothing. Rose counters that his life is not worth nothing, that she loves him. Rose's brother Raymond Cappomaggi (Louis Guss) and his wife Rita (Julie Bovasso) stop in because Loretta, who does their books, forgot to make the bank deposit from their delicatessen while she was getting her makeover, and they are worried. Everyone is introduced to Ronny, and they all await Johnny's arrival.
When Johnny finally comes in, he explains to Loretta that if he marries her, his mother will die. Loretta, forgetting momentarily that this is good news, throws the engagement ring at him. Seizing the moment, Ronny asks Loretta to marry him; he borrows Johnny's ring, and Loretta accepts. Rose asks Loretta if she loves him, and when Loretta says, "I love him awful," Rose comments that that's too bad. The family shares a bottle of champagne to celebrate and the grandfather insists that Johnny join in the toast because he will now be one of the family as well.
Theatrical : 1987-12-18 : United States of America
DVD : 1998-06-30