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  Peggy Sue Got Married Those Were The Days
Year: 1986
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks, Joan Allen, Kevin J. O'Connor, Jim Carrey, Lisa Jane Persky, Lucinda Jenney, Will Shriner, Barbara Harris, Sofia Coppola, Maureen O'Sullivan, Leon Ames, John Carradine, Helen Hunt, Don Stark
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) is extremely nervous about attending her high school reunion twenty-five years after leaving the place behind, mainly because she knows she will be asked about how her life has gone, and more specifically how her marriage to local businessman and commercial break fixture Charlie Bodell (Nicolas Cage) is getting on. The answer to that is that she is considering a divorce as they are separated, and with him being a minor celebrity of sorts she fears their break-up will be all the more public, but her daughter Beth (Helen Hunt) is most persuasive and agrees to accompany Peggy Sue to the event for moral support. Once she gets there she enjoys meeting up with old friends, but then something weird happens...

Only it wasn't all that weird if you had seen Back to the Future the previous year, for just as Hollywood hits tended to happen along in twos as some mini-trend or other, Peggy Sue Got Married also featured a time travel premise, though whereas the Michael J. Fox effort spoke as much to the kids as their parents, a cross-generational entertainment, this was more geared towards the Baby Boomers who would actually remember what it was like way back when the lengthy past time segment was set. Kathleen Turner, stepping in for Debra Winger who was waylaid, earned stellar reviews and much appreciation from audiences for her performance, and it was good, but watching it now she doesn't stand out as much as she did.

Who does stand out is Nicolas Cage, not because he was very good, but because he was very strange, supposedly playing Peggy Sue's dream boy but in effect overbalancing the movie with his eccentric choices. Who knows what he was aiming for, but you have to assume he succeeded in his own mind, for his Charlie was even more of a nerd than Richard Norvik (Barry Miller), the character who was meant to be the actual nerd, with his ridiculous, whiny voice and odd mannerisms it was very difficult to see what the heroine saw in him. And if we cannot see what she can see, then how were we supposed to relate? The 1960-era Charlie is a budding singer, and Cage did his own crooning, yet you don't entirely buy that either; it's a pity nobody was able to rein him in.

Apparently they tried, but Cage was obstinate and convinced he was doing it right, and besides the producers wouldn't fire him as it was his uncle Francis Ford Coppola calling the shots on the set, badly needing a hit after a run of flops and no more than slight cult adulation. He got his wish, but really this was his last work to make much of a favourable impression with the public until Bram Stoker's Dracula, and after that, well, those vineyards were a pleasant way of doing business. Here if he was a shade anonymous in his stylings he kept what could have been all over the place consistent, Cage aside, and you could tell the family scenes meant the most to him as Peggy Sue, inexplicably transported back to her teenage years, gets emotional seeing her mother again and the prospect of talking to her grandmother on the phone reduces her to tears.

The pull of nostalgia is a powerful one, but where many projects with that in mind would harp on about the pop culture to place it in a particular time, here it was playing second fiddle to the turmoil racing through Peggy Sue's mind, nicely held together by Turner. It was really only the showbiz interest of Charlie that applied here, and he didn't sing Buddy Holly songs as the title might suggest, he was more into fifties doo-wop which indicates how blinkered the people back in '60 were as to what was around the corner: it's an interesting, transitional period to set the story in. While the main message was to appreciate what you had while you had it, another may well have been that you genuinely cannot go back and fix your past, mistakes and wise decisions and all, since you are a different person at progressive stages in your life, therefore when Peggy Sue is inhabiting her last few weeks at school she does try to act with more heed of what will happen in her future and it just doesn't work out. With a well-chosen cast of soon-to-be famous faces, it was curiously slight yet food for thought. Music by John Barry.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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