27 May 2022

52 for '22: Peggy Sue Got Married

MoviePeggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Method: HBOMax

She also straight up never tries to get back to the future

Why Did I watch this?

I was binging Nic Cage facts after watching The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) and stumbled upon this Conan interview where they talked at length about Peggy Sue Got Married. I really didn't know much about 80s Cage, and it got me intrigued. I watched a scene and didn't really understand why this movie was worthwhile beyond Cage's odd voice. It was on Last Chance on HBOMax and I have admittedly fallen behind my Netflix DVD queue. So there we go.

What Did I know ahead of time?

I knew Nic Cage was weird. That may have been it, folks. It obviously had something to do with this woman named Peggy Sue. I really don't need much to go on to watch a movie, do I?

How Was It?

This was pretty good! The movie is really about Kathleen Turner traveling back in time at her High School Reunion to relive her courtship with Nicolas Cage, who has become a total philandering jerk in the future. The time travel is never really explained and Peggy Sue just goes back into her old body with all her future knowledge until her Lodge grandfather sends her back to the present through magic or whatever.

Nic Cage is here, but him and his odd voice don't take up that much of the story. It's maybe unfortunate that a pretty solid film has ended up more notable for his boffo performance choices. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who apparently just really wanted his nephew in the movie, regardless if whether or not Cage wanted to be in his movie. So Cage just talked like Gumby and somehow no one fired him. This lead to some strife with Kathleen Turner, because of course it did - she was nominated for an Academy Award for this performance and carries the damn movie, but any discourse that exists has to talk about Nic Cage's dumb nasal voice.

Also Jim Carrey pops up here
Yes, it's the Jim Carrey / Nic Cage barbershop quartet we've always
 dreamed of. How did this movie get forgotten
 in a supporting role. It's really surreal to see just Jim Carrey in the background, whose mannerisms are so Jim Carrey-like. He's just hanging with Nic Cage and Donna's Dad from That 70s Show. It's a scene, man.

But Kathleen Turner is really the best here. She plays Peggy Sue with remarkable depth and is infinitely watchable. There's pain and confusion, but also relishing good times and old friends, dealing with regret but also a lot of great love. It's just everything. It's like a coming of age movie with someone who's already come of age. Joan Allen is here, too, ready for a future Face / Off (1997) reunion!

Peggy Sue is a recent divorcee at her 25th High School reunion. Helen Hunt is her daughter, who is nine years younger, but they look the same age here. I know they wanted younger cast members for the back in time scenes, but I did not know what was going on in these early scenes. It's just dim and the age make-up isn't great. Anyway, she gets flustered when named the Reunion Queen (is that a thing?!) and then wakes up in 1960.

Part of it felt a little Back to the Future (1985) without the rousing sci-fi elements or four quarter appeal, but it paints its boomer nostalgia as more not so great. Peggy Sue realizes how she treated people in High School, and how these idiots turned out, and never really walks around with rose-tinted glasses pining for the gold old days.

Kevin J. O'Connor is here as a heartthrob, which is amazing after The Mummy (1999) where he found himself more as a sniveling character actor. But he's a greaser, track star, culture shocker author person? I like how he seems like an awesome alternative to Nic Cage then he invites Peggy Sue to live with him in Utah with another wife who will support his writing by raising chickens. See, no man or alternative is really that great in this film. 

I was a little disappointed by the ending. She seems to be turned around by Nic Cage, although he's really been an idiot jerk this whole time. The whole bit is that she could have had an alternate future, but she kind of just does things the same anyway. They're still divorced, but slightly reconciled by the end. I think that there was some attempt at a character arc for Cage, and he's a bit more sympathetic in the last scene, but we needed a little more to really sell it if this is what they were going for.

But this is pretty good. Light, funny, weird, full of character depth, and not too caked in nostalgia bait. It's certainly not nostalgic for a dude in his 30s watching it in 2022. There really is a lot more to it than Cage's gumby voice, so give it a gander!

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