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Peggy Sue Got Married Blu-ray Review

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) movie poster Peggy Sue Got Married

Theatrical Release: October 10, 1986 / Running Time: 103 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Francis Ford Coppola / Writers: Jerry Leichtling, Arlene Sarner

Cast: Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue Bodell/Kelcher), Nicolas Cage (Charlie Bodell), Barry Miller (Richard Norvik), Catherine Hicks (Carol Heath), Joan Allen (Maddy Lutton/Nagle), Kevin J. O'Connor (Michael Fitzsimmons), Jim Carrey (Walter Getz), Lisa Jane Persky (Delores Dodge), Lucinda Jenney (Rosalie Testa), Wil Shriner (Arthur Nagle), Barbara Harris (Evelyn Kelcher), Don Murray (Jack Kelcher), Sofia Coppola (Nancy Kelcher), Maureen O'Sullivan (Elizabeth Alvorg), Leon Ames (Barney Alvorg), Randy Bourne (Scott Bodell), Helen Hunt (Beth Bodell), Don Stark (Doug Snell), Marshall Crenshaw and Band (Reunion Band), Ken Grantham (Mr. Snelgrove), Ginger Taylor (Janet), Sigrid Wurschmidt (Sharon Norvik), Glenn Withrow (Terry), Harry Basil (Leon), John Carradine (Leo)

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Francis Ford Coppola had every reason to feel on top of the world at the end of the 1970s. The decade that began with him winning a Best Original Screenplay for Patton had just ended with his Vietnam War drama Apocalypse Now overcoming virtually every conceivable filmmaking obstacle (including a heart attack, lead role recasting, and typhoon)
to be met with great interest and admiration. In between, he cemented his legacy by making two of the greatest films ever in The Godfather and its sequel as well as having a hand in two additional '70s Best Picture Oscar nominees as writer/director of The Conversation and a producer of American Graffiti.

Having repeatedly defied the odds and lived up to his oversized ambitions, Coppola couldn't have been too concerned by the troubles of his next production. To make the romantic drama One from the Heart, Coppola and his crew built life-sized strips of Las Vegas on an L.A. soundstage. Their budget ballooned from $2 million to over $25 million. And when the film was finally completed and released just prior to Valentine's Day 1982, there was no happy ending in sight. It bombed, undoing all of Coppola's recent commercial success and directly leading to his Zoetrope Studios' eventual bankruptcy.

The costly failures of One from the Heart changed Coppola's filmmaking methods in the 1980s. Gone were the independent personal projects he devoted himself to perfectly realizing. In their place were studio pictures with likely commercial value. After adapting two of S.E. Hinton's popular young adult novels, Coppola endured another box office flop in The Cotton Club. Following an episode of Shelley Duvall's "Fairy Tale Theatre" and the George Lucas-produced Disney Parks 3D short Captain EO starring Michael Jackson, Coppola returned to feature films with 1986's Peggy Sue Got Married.

This 1986 romantic comedy was unlike anything Coppola had made before and was one of his first movies he directed without also taking a writing credit. The script was the first completed work of Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner, a married couple in their late thirties. They've barely produced any screenplays since: contributing to a 1990 Earth Day television special, penning the 1999 Melissa Gilbert TV movie Mistaken Identity (a.k.a. Switched at Birth), and working on the little-seen 2002 indie drama Julie Walking Home (a.k.a. The Healer).

Their first screenplay, however, experienced success. Peggy Sue grossed a solid $41.3 million (which inflation adjusts to $88.6 M today), good for nineteenth place among all of 1986's releases. It even earned a number of award nominations and not just in the Golden Globes' easily cracked Comedy/Musical categories but contending for lead actress, cinematography, and costume design Oscars.

Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) is named queen at her 25-year high school reunion, an honor that shortly precedes an inexplicable journey back in time for her in "Peggy Sue Got Married."

Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) got married young, right after high school. Now, she returns to Buchanan High for her 25-year reunion as a recently separated mother of two grown children. The air is full of excitement, as old friends reconnect for the first time in a while. After she is chosen class queen at the event, Peggy Sue passes out. She comes to at a school blood drive in the spring of 1960. Peggy Sue is a teenager again and though she retains her middle-aged mind and many life experiences, her classmates are all just as they were the first time around.

Needless to say, it's quite a trip for Peggy to once again be living with her parents (Barbara Harris and Don Murray) and younger sister (Sofia Coppola), having her grandparents still be alive, and attending class with her best friends. Peggy Sue keeps her incredible time-traveling experience secret from all but one student, choosing brainy valedictorian Richard Norvik (Barry Miller) as her confidant. She tries to wrap her head around her relationship with her sweetheart and future ex-husband Charlie Bodell (Nicolas Cage), while also correcting her one regret, to better know her Kerouac-loving, Hemingway-hating independent beatnik classmate Michael Fitzsimmons (Kevin J. O'Connor).

Peggy Sue Got Married begins as a comedy and though never gut-busting funny, it quickly emerges as an entertaining exploration of an appealing fantasy premise. Who among us wouldn't be intrigued to have the chance to get a high school do-over or to simply revisit adolescence with the perspective and wisdom that come from age? That Peggy Sue journeys back to 1960 isn't trivial either, as it takes Coppola, scribes Leichtling and Sarner, and the main original target audience in 1986 back to their all-important formative years. Turning the clocks back two decades to relive the fashions and sensibilities of teenagehood is a standard device, upheld in everything from "Happy Days" to Grease to Hot Tub Time Machine. The poodle skirts and pompadours on display enhance a trip down memory lane for those of the right age.

A young Jim Carrey and a blonde, even younger Nicolas Cage have a lunchtime discussion. Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) takes a new look at her old neighborhood.

You don't have to have grown up in the '50s and '60s to enjoy Peggy Sue, but it definitely helps and calls attention away from some flaws that will seem pretty glaring to the rest of us. For instance, the movie seems to stop being a comedy about halfway in and doesn't find anything too compelling to offer in lieu of laughs. After getting her kicks with Michael Fitzsimmons and having mixed feelings about her future husband, the protagonist gets wistful and seems to want to return home. She does, of course, awakening in a hospital from some kind of a coma.
We don't really need an explanation for her journey, but it'd be nice if there was more than just a joyful reunion with Charlie on the other side. All the jokes about things that will be popular in the future (pantyhose, large portable radios) do not pay off. None of her other classmates resurface other than by name. The entire experience feels kind of sloppy and unfulfilling, like a Back to the Future whose references didn't all connect in some clever way.

For Coppola, the most significant thing about this movie may well have been its contribution to the rise of his nephew Nicolas Cage. Just 21 during filming, Cage had already appeared in a number of films, including Fast Times at Ridgemont High, his uncle's Rumble Fish and Cotton Club, and the comedy Valley Girl that cast him as leading man. With Peggy Sue, though, Cage's career kind of took off and the following year would see him star in both the Oscar-winning romantic comedy Moonstruck and the Coen Brothers' offbeat cult classic Raising Arizona. The actor flirted with fame after that, but didn't have his movie stardom certified until the mid-1990s when he followed his Oscar-winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas with high-profile action vehicles that until a few years ago were often profitable. Here, sporting a blonde bouffant and a nasal voice he sometimes slips out of, Cage is interestingly ridiculous as the doo-wop group lead singer who will grow into "Crazy" Charlie, a salesman known for his wacky TV commercials.

While somewhat star-making for Cage and also featuring some of the earliest film appearances of Jim Carrey, Joan Allen, Helen Hunt, and "7th Heaven" mom Catherine Hicks, the movie belongs first and foremost to Kathleen Turner. 31 years old during filming, Turner isn't convincing as either a middle-aged mother or a high school student. She is ten years Cage's senior, but simply one of a number of older onscreen love interests (including Cher and Holly Hunter) he held during this era as he looked older than he was (and not terribly younger than he does now at 49).

The Definitions, a doo-wop group led by Charlie (Nicolas Cage) and featuring Walter (Jim Carrey), cover Dion and the Belmonts' "I Wonder Why" at a 1960 dance.

Turner had made her film debut in the 1981 neo-noir Body Heat, then teamed with Michael Douglas in the smash hit romantic comic adventures Romancing the Stone (1983) and its sequel The Jewel of the Nile (1985). Those movies won her fans and the first also the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical, an honor she repeated for Prizzi's Honor before having to settle for just a Peggy Sue nomination. Peggy Sue also gave Turner her first and to date only Oscar nomination, an award she would lose to young, deaf Marlee Matlin in the more dramatic Children of a Lesser God.

The feminine Turner here is a far cry from her current persona and the husky low register that helped her be cast as Chandler Bing's cross-dressing father in three episodes of "Friends." Turner would reteam with Body Heat director Lawrence Kasdan and co-star William Hurt in 1988's The Accidental Tourist, lend her voice sans credit to Who Framed Roger Rabbit's popular sexpot Jessica Rabbit, and score another hit with Douglas in the 1989 Danny DeVito-directed comedy The War of the Roses. Her career has unquestionably gone downhill since then, with one of her few bright spots being a role in The Virgin Suicides (1999), directed by her Peggy Sue kid sister Sofia Coppola, Francis' daughter.

Though one of Blu-ray's biggest supporters, Sony has shied from releasing much of its vast catalog of Columbia and TriStar Pictures films on the format, farming out less than evergreen titles to smaller studios. By today's standards, Peggy Sue may boast more star power than most 1986 comedies in addition to a more accomplished director. Still, Sony passes it off to Image Entertainment, who will release the movie by itself at the end of this month on a new DVD and its very first Blu-ray. We review the latter here.

Peggy Sue Got Married Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $17.97
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($9.98 SRP), in 4 Back-to-School Movies DVD Collection ($19.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video
Previously released as Sony DVD (August 11, 1998), VHS (January 22, 2001), and Romance Collection VHS (January 20, 1998)

VIDEO and AUDIO

The best thing about this Blu-ray is that it finally treats Peggy Sue Got Married to its original theatrical aspect ratio. Sony's original DVD, released all the way back in the summer of 1998, presented the film in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio we can no longer accurately describe as "full screen." With a few exceptions, most studios haven't compromised widescreen films' intended visions on DVD in quite a while,
but as Peggy Sue has never gotten a new DVD edition, it's been stuck reformatted for no longer standard television dimensions.

Image's Blu-ray and concurrent new DVD restore the film's Oscar-nominated cinematography to its intended 1.85:1. The print is clear but has an aged look to it. Colors are a touch faded and there isn't an abundance of sharpness or detail. The visuals do seem consistent with what we see from other averagely-budgeted 1980s films and the 1080p picture undoubtedly offers significant gains over the DVD transfer I remember being somewhat appalled by a few years back.

Sound is offered in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio, another improvement over DVD's plain 2.0 Dolby Surround track. The mix is largely limited to the front channels, but it stays crisp and intelligible throughout. Despite what the case says, the only subtitles included here are English SDH ones.

Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) laments the lack of bonus features on her Blu-ray Disc's menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

No bonus features whatsoever accompany the movie on Blu-ray. That's unfortunate, of course, even if only trailers for Peggy Sue and other Sony movies are all that are missed from the 1998 DVD.
I'm of the belief that a film's original theatrical trailer is the one must-have bonus feature and the omission is felt here. I doubt we can blame Image for that, because Mill Creek Entertainment's Blu-rays of films licensed from Sony have similarly been altogether void of extras. It just doesn't make sense for customers to have to accept a downgrade in supplements, no matter how minor, in order to enjoy an upgrade in picture and sound.

The scored main menu plays clips in a starry sky resembling the cover art. Though it fails to resume unfinished playback, the Blu-ray does allow you to set bookmarks on the film, which some might prefer.

No inserts, reverse artwork, or slipcovers spice up the side-snapped keepcase whose cover is ever so slightly revised from Sony's 1998 DVD, which itself added shots of '90s-marketable supporting cast members to the original poster art design. At least the disc sports full color label art.

Charlie (Nicolas Cage) and Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) have a sunny morning chat in their picturesque California neighborhood.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Peggy Sue Got Married does not appear to be the work of a cinema master, but then I'm not sure that any of Francis Ford Coppola's films from the past thirty years really do. Though it falls apart at its end and never realizes the full potential of its intriguing premise this comedy remains lightly entertaining. It also happens to be full of future movie and television stars, which always adds value.

Image's Blu-ray is basic and barren. The HD feature presentation is satisfactory; the loss of the trailer is not. The price is a tad high for a single somewhat deep catalog title Sony would allow to be licensed out. The movie is not one that begs to be repurchased on each format and the nearly 70-year-old women for whom this might most resonate are unlikely to be swayed simply be improved picture and sound. Still, it's kind of a fun movie and, restored it to its original widescreen aspect ratio, this disc makes for a decent first-time purchase at the right price.

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Related Reviews:
Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection New York Stories The Godfather Trilogy John Grisham's The Rainmaker Bram Stoker's Dracula Jack
1980s on Blu-ray: Ferris Bueller's Day Off Adventures in Babysitting Teen Wolf Clue Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Spaceballs Good Morning, Vietnam
High School Reunions: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion Grosse Pointe Blank 10 Years
Two Decades' Nostalgia: Happy Days: The Third Season That '70s Show: Season One Dazed and Confused Hot Tub Time Machine
Kathleen Turner: Marley & Me Who Framed Roger Rabbit | Nicolas Cage: National Treasure Knowing Stolen
Jim Carrey: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Yes Man | Catherine Hicks: Child's Play | Joan Allen: Nixon
Helen Hunt: Soul Surfer Then She Found Me | Barbara Harris: Freaky Friday North Avenue Irregulars
New to Blu-ray: The Producers The Kentucky Fried Movie Safety Last! 42 Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special

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Reviewed July 19, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1986 Tri-Star Pictures, Rastar, Zoetrope Studios, and 2013 Image Entertainment, RLJ Entertainment.
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