Join Peggy Sue on an Adventure 25 Years into the Past…

Hi, everyone! I don’t know about any of you, but I have always been entranced by stories which feature the characters either time travelling to the past (likely before they were born) or to the future. When it comes to time travel movies, there are the classics (“Back to the Future”), the abysmal (the 2002 remake of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”, starring Guy Pearce), and the tremendously goofy ones (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”). That brings me to today’s movie, “Peggy Sue got Married” (from 1986), where Kathleen Turner gets the chance to relive her high school years.

The Plot in a Nutshell: Life isn’t looking too bright for Peggy Sue Bodell (Turner). She’s on the cusp of divorce from her wayward husband Charlie (Nicolas Cage), whom she married at the end of high school when she got pregnant. When she goes to her 25th high school reunion with daughter Beth (Helen Hunt) in tow, she meets up with her old school friends, including Richard (Barry Miller), former class nerd turned billionaire inventor. When she, alongside Richard as her King, is crowned as “Reunion Queen”, she ends up fainting on the stage.

When Peggy comes to, she’s shocked to discover that it’s 1960, and she’s been transported into her senior year of high school. After her understandable shock, Peggy is determined to do things right the second time around, as Peggy Sue Kelcher, where she’s expected not to drink, have sex or experiment with drugs. Peggy confides her  dilemma to the teenage version of Richard, and in turn for his solution to her time travel conundrum , offers him advice about future inventions in the 1980’s.   She becomes closer to her parents (Don Murray and Barbara Harris) and little sister Nancy (Sophia Coppola), fools around with mysterious Bohemian poet Michael (Kevin J. O’Connor), and attempts to prevent herself from getting tied down by Charlie at an early age. But will Peggy discover the reason she fell for Charlie in the first place, or does destiny have other plans in store for Peggy Sue?

Cast and Acting Observations: Kathleen Turner was 32 years old when she made this picture, yet she convincingly plays both a high school teenager and her 42 year old self. This isn’t an easy feat to achieve, but Turner pulls it off with enough charm to make this unlikely scenario plausible by just her performance alone. Nicolas Cage adopts a dodgy accent as Charlie, but nevertheless delivers all the right notes as a character who has more layers to him than Peggy or the audience initially gave him credit for.

Actors Before They were Famous: When I first watched the movie, I was greatly amused to see Jim Carrey in a supporting role as Charlie’s goofball of a best friend, Walter. In addition, future “Lost in Translation” and “The Virgin Suicides” director Sofia Coppola is Peggy’s preteen sister Nancy, five years before she become known for her less than stellar, but not downright horrible, turn as Mary Corleone in “The Godfather Part III”, which, like “Peggy Sue”, was directed by her father, the legendary Francis Ford Coppola.

My Favourite Scene(s) in the Movie:  I (and those of you who may detest Maths as much as I always have) got a kick out of the scene where Peggy awesomely lectures her sadistic teacher on how she won’t have have any need for Algebra in the future. But the real scene that makes the movie for me is when Peggy answers the phone in her home, only to realize that she’s talking to her long deceased grandmother (Maureen O’Sullivan). Overcome with emotion, she hurriedly flees, with her mother having to comfort her without realizing the true instigation behind her daughter’s outburst. Anyone who has ever lost anyone close to them can easily empathize with Peggy’s plight.

My Least Favourite Scene(s) in the Movie: While this may just be a ridiculous nitpick in an otherwise enjoyable movie, there was one scene that I found to be a little awkward. After Peggy has revealed her strange situation to Richard, they’re confused as to whether she’s in limbo or dead. Then Richard proposes testing out the “dead” concept, and proceeds to shove Peggy onto the path of an oncoming fire engine to determine this theory. While it’s rather short-lived (with Peggy leaping out of the way just before the engine hits home), it still unsettled me. If she hadn’t jumped away just in the nick of time, then Richard would have been accidentally, but directly responsible for her demise. I know that it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but still.

My Take on “Peggy Sue got Married”: I immensely enjoyed the movie, as I felt that it was a fantastic representation of time travel movies. It may inevitably draw comparisons with the similarly themed “Back to the Future”, which was released just a year prior to this this flick. However, “Peggy Sue” is a remarkable film in its own right, and an unexpected picture from the man who directed “The Godfather Trilogy”.

My Rating and Recommendations: “Peggy Sue Got Married” gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book, as it’s a compelling movie with sympathetic and engaging characters. If you’re intrigued by movies concerning time travel, then please feel free to check out my reviews for “Back to the Futureand Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure“.

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Enter the Labyrinth this Autumn…

One movie I always make sure to watch each Autumn is “Labyrinth”. The reasons for this could be because of it being one of the movies where we can see acclaimed puppeteer Jim Henson’s creations come to life, or watch future Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly delve in an extraordinary fantasy land beyond her wildest dreams. However, I’m going to go for the reason that most of you likely saw the movie was either because of David Bowie and his… ahem, rather tight pants, as well as seeing the Starman himself in a villianous role in a kid’s movie.

The story centres around Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), a creative, if self-centred teenage girl, who is furious at her dad for remarrying so soon following her parents’s collapse of marriage and subsequent divorce. Sarah bides her time by seeking refuge in her own universe of fantasy. She despises her infant half-brother, Toby (Toby Froud), whom she blames many of her current problems on . This leads to her making a wish out of spite that the goblins from her favourite story would seize Toby and carry him away.

As misfortune would have it, her prays are answered by in the worst possible way, when Toby is captured by the Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie). Sarah is assigned thirteen hours to reclaim Toby, or else he’ll be turned into a goblin for eternity. Along the way, she meets up with the dwarfish Hoggle (Brian Henson), who is double crossing her by secretly working for Jareth, as well as magnificent beast Ludo (Ron Mueck). Will Sarah manage to use her imagination to defeat Jareth and save Toby?

“Labyrinth” is one of those flicks where the setting of the movie is stunning to look at. Even though you know that’s it’s all a lavishly designed set when watching as an adult, as a kid, it’s perhaps the most magical kingdom you’ve seen. Likewise, the puppets still have the power to affect me with awe and astonishment, even years after I initially viewed this flick.

David Bowie, surprisingly enough for a non actor, really suits the role of the hammy, evil Goblin King. Yes, his performance borders on being campy and over the top at times, but to me, it’s all part of the movie’s charm. Jennifer Connelly is a fine actress, and although she’s been accused of showing little to no emotion at times in this movie, I feel as though she pulled off a convincing enough performance, especially given that she was only 15 years old when it was released.

If this movie has a weak point, I’d say it’s towards the end of the film, where certain scenes drag on, and don’t seem to go anywhere, in particular Bowie’s song and dance number (though I admit it’s fairly catchy).

I rate “Labyrinth” a total of 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to kids aged eights and up, seeing how it’s a fantasy adventure filled with vivid, exquisite imagery. On the other hand, I was dissuade very young children from watching, as they may be alarmed by the various creatures and suspenseful scenes depicted in this movie. Happy viewing!

Update: Upon hearing of David Bowie’s tragic passing on January 10th, 2016, “Labyrinth” is now tinged with sadness. I’d still recommend watching this movie, if only to see Bowie in his most notable film role. Rest in Peace, Starman in the Sky!

Rodney Dangerfield heads “Back To School” in this Quirky Comedy

Continuing my list for movies to be enjoyed when preparing to return to either work or school. Today’s flick is the appropriately titled “Back to School” (1986), in which Rodney Dangerfield plays a entrepreneur for a business that caters for slightly broader people, does exactly that!

Thornton Melon (Dangerfield) has made his fortune by setting up “Tall and Fat”, a clothing store, despite having never attended college, nor obtained a degree. After he divorces his gold digging  second wife, Vanessa (Adrienne Barbeau) after catching her cheating, Thornton visits his college age son, Jason (Keith Gordon). Thornton has been under the impression that Jason is the star of the diving team. Surprise, surprise, he discovers that this is not the case- Jason is the towel boy of the team, who is often tormented by the real swim team leader, Chas (William Zappka, carrying on the schtick of the bullying jock from “The Karate Kid”), and wants to drop out altogether.

In a bid to convince Jason to stay in college, Thornton elects to enroll in the same college. Naturally, he solves the problem of having no prior diplomas by throwing money at it- i.e. donating a building to the campus. This earns him an instant nemesis with Philip Barbay (Paxton Whitehead). As Thornton parties and wisecracks his way through college, Jason grows all the more exasperated by his dad’s antics. But with the help of Jason and his literature professor Diane, (Sally Kellerman), Thornton may just pass the class!

“Back to School” was the first Rodney Dangerfield movie I’d ever watched, so I was unused to Dangerfield’s comedic quips and sometimes crude humour. However, I gradually warmed to his character as the movie went on, so ultimately I had no choice but to like Thornton, for all his faults, he proves to be well-meaning.

The supporting cast help make the flick watchable, from Robert Downey Junior as Jason’s offbeat best friend, to Edie McClurg as Thornton’s secretary, Marge (despite the fact that she only appears in one scene!) In addition, author Kurt Vonnegut cameos as himself, when Thornton ropes him in to write an essay on his own book “Slaughterhouse 5”, with humorous consequences!

In conclusion, “Back to School” may not be the best movie there is about college, but it delivers the laughs, which is what you’d expect from a Rodney Dangerfield comedy. It’s for this reason that this flick receives three and a half stars from me!