We all know that Nic Cage is an incredibly diverse actor. His movies are varied and glorious, and there is no denying it. But for this week’s installment of “Jenny, Y’know, I Don’t See How That’s Going to Work But I Trust You,” I’m asking you to forget all of that. “But what about Vampire’s Kiss“ you might say. “What about Face/Off?” “WHAT ABOUT THE WICKER MAN???” But look back, now, to the name of this segment, and just — trust me, okay? This is the Ultimate Nic Cage Double Feature.
Moonstruck (Take 1)
So, before Nic Cage Drove Angry, before he was Gone in Sixty Seconds, before he was Trapped in Paradise, he was an unreasonable and resentful one-handed baker with truly horrible teeth. As this greasy, opera-loving malcontent, he proved himself directly on par with Cher’s acting ability (take that however you will).
Moonstruck is about Cher, a forty-one year old widow in Brooklyn who has recently agreed to marry an emotionally detached businessman. This businessman (Danny Aiello, of Tony Rosato fame) is super boring and not important; his entire purpose is to be so spineless as to make Cher go invite his estranged brother to their wedding(/collect her own engagement ring because Nic Cage is the keeper of the family ring for some reason??), and thus facilitate their meeting. And oh, what a meeting. Nic Cage, pre-dental work, pre-knowledge-of-shampoo, is covered in flour as he flatly refuses to hand over the ring (spoiler: he can’t hand it over because he LOST HIS HAND).
Pretty much immediately after this, they have sex. Cher half-regrets it and says they can never see each other again, and Nic Cage agrees, on the condition that she let him take her to the opera one time. This movie has the internal logic of genuinely shitty fanfiction, except without the comfort of knowing that you’re already invested in the characters.
Moonstruck (Take 2)
I won’t spoil the rest, but I will say that Moonstruck has one of my favorite makeover montages in all of cinematic history.
One of the first things that strikes me on rewatching this sequence is just how solitary it is. Cher interacts with the stylist, sure, but for the most part, she is on her own: on her own shopping for the dress, on her own getting ready, and even on her own when she first makes the decision to enter the beauty salon.
And I mean, it’s just so rare to find a sequence like this, where the makeover is facilitated almost entirely by the recipient.
Like, think back to other famous (and favorite) makeover montages: Princess Diaries (Mia is made over by her grandmother/Paolo), She’s All That (Laney is made over by Freddie Prinze Jr./his little sister), Clueless (Tai is made over by Cher and Dionne). All of these women are very passively transformed according to the will of someone else; which is to say: while they may, however grudgingly, concede to the makeover, they never actively seek it.
The Moonstruck makeover montage is just so fucking stellar because Cher seeks out the beauty salon, and she seeks out the fancy dress — yes, these moments are played off as “she sees these places/things as she’s walking down the street and a whim overtakes her,” but it is Her Own Whim. She has all of the autonomy in this montage.
And the best part (THE BEST PART) is the, like, three full minutes she spends just pouring herself a glass of wine, sitting by the fire, and admiring her purchases/self.
It is a beautiful moment of self-love and one that is so hard to find in Hollywood because she is over forty. Moonstruck is a true love letter to women above the very narrow age range of conventional desirability (see also: MMXXL).
“But what does this have to do with Nic Cage?” you may be wondering. Very little, I admit — except to say that Nic Cage is physically present some of the time. Which is why, in light of this pairing as the Nic Cage double feature, I recommend watching it twice, for roughly the same amount of Nic Cage screen time as you would get if you were to sit down and watch The Rock or the masterful Taken knock-off, Stolen.
But please remember: the beauty of Moonstruck is that Nic Cage is not the protagonist; Cher is — Lovely, Beautiful Cher. Cher, who takes no shit and will physically fight you if you make fun of her Sicilian Superstitions or hurt her mother (Olympia Dukakis, because also: this movie has Olympia Dukakis!). He is, rather, the young man this woman uses on her path towards self-actualization.
So with this in mind, you probably realize that, getting one movie’s worth of Nic Cage in two viewings is not really the point of this double feature. I recommend watching Moonstruck and then immediately watching Moonstruck again because the first viewing is always tainted by the stain of Nic Cage’s teeth/acting.
This movie is impossible to take seriously upon the first viewing because it’s completely goddamn ridiculous. So, you need to watch it again — and when you watch it again, you need to remember that Cher won an Oscar for this.
Moonstruck came out in 1987, right at the height of The Golden Girls’ popularity — it is representative of a greater trend towards valuing older women that we, as a society, have seemingly forgotten.
Like, this will be you one day; so, I ask you to embrace your inner crone, and maybe call your mother.