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Peggy Sue Got Married

Posted on the 28 January 2016 by Christopher Saunders
Peggy Sue Got MarriedFrancis Ford Coppola's director-for-hire work, The Godfather notwithstanding, matches his weakest personal films. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) was Coppola's biggest hit of the '80s, yet it's as safe, conventional and affectless as anything he ever made.
Peggy Sue Bodell (Kathleen Turner) blacks out at her 25th high school reunion. She reawakens in the early '60s, thrust back into high school. Uncertain whether she's time traveled or simply delusional, Peggy tries to rectify her past mistakes. She breaks up with her future husband Charlie (Nicolas Cage), weighing instead a relationship with brooding hunk Michael Fitzsimmons (Kevin J. O'Connor). Peggy is struck by Charlie's devotion, which shines through his outward sliminess.
Peggy Sue Got Married tries to be a mature Back to the Future, but lacks that film's wit and creativity. Instead, Coppola and scenarists Jerry Leichting and Arlene Sarner trade in '50s nostalgia and shopworn melodrama. Peggy uses time travel as therapy, finding that her cheating, two-timing husband was really a good fella all along. The humor largely fizzles, only obtaining laughs when a Masonic lodge offers to send Peggy forward in time! The character dynamics are strictly rote, with supporting players (Michael, Barry Miller's school nerd) so thinly sketched the outcome's inevitable.
Kathleen Turner's earnest, warm-hearted performance earned an Oscar nomination. She's unfortunately balanced by Nicolas Cage. Sporting blond hair and sounding like Eddie Deezen impersonating a surfer, Cage is thoroughly charmless. Leon Ames and Maureen O'Sullivan enliven things as Peggy's grandparents, along with John Carradine as their lodge leader. Future stars Jim Carey, Joan Allen, Helen Hunt and Kevin J. O'Connor inhabit supporting roles. Sofia Coppola fares okay as Peggy's sister.
Peggy Sue Got Married has its fans, but I confess its charms eluded me. What might have been a poignant look at roads untraveled becomes a soggy pile of unearned sentiment. Still, Coppola fans can rejoice at one thing: it's better than Jack.

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