Kathleen Turner stars in Francis Ford Coppola’s romance fantasy as Peggy Sue, a woman in her early forties who just got divorced from her high school sweetheart, Charlie, a salesman who cheated on her with a bimbo. The guy’s played by Nicolas Cage as a man who hates his job and the mistakes he made in life, yet doesn’t show it, preferring to look like he’s in control. As the film begins, we see a bitter Peggy who prepares for her 25 year high school reunion with her daughter, played by the then 12 years short from an Oscar Helen Hunt. It’s a minuscule part, but the Mad About You girl takes advantage of it and is oh so sweet. At the reunion, Peggy meets again with different people, and at one point, emotion rises too much and she passes out, only 25 years before! Uhn? Don’t ask. The film never explains the why and how. The time travel is, like in “Back to the Future”, only a trick to get someone back in time with knowledge from the future. Yet, Peggy Sue ain’t as cool and witty as Marty McFly, and when she gets to 1960, it’s not to skate the streets and pull a Chuck Berry. Coppola’s film does have funny moments, but it’s more of a human comedy that asks what would a woman do if she could go back to 17 with what she knows now.
It’s also an endearing love story between Peggy and a much younger Charlie, who then lives only for music. Peggy knows how ended up her thing with him, so is she willing to start over with him? With her new knowledge, she sees high school in a different light and befriends people she wouldn’t even have approached back then. Besides the good sentiments and the nostalgia factor, what’s amazing about this film is the performances from the leads. Kathleen Turner, who received an Oscar nomination for this, is wonderful. Okay, she’s thirtysomething and she doesn’t look anything like a 17 year old chick, but that’s not the point. The idea is that we see her as a woman, but people in the film see her as a teenager. Turner is convincing and fun, and she achieves to make us forget the age thing. Then comes the controversial performance of Nicolas Cage, which you’ll love or hate. You see, Cage likes to experiment and take risks, and he decided that he would make his character more interesting. Charlie is a young guy with good hair, a pretty face and a cool car. You understand how boring he could have been. Just think of the male bimbo who seduced Molly Ringwald in John Hughes’ “16 Candles”: Totally forgettable.
But Cage won’t settle for that. He talk like Pokey (the horse from The Gumby Show) during the whole film! Many people thought that ruined the film, but I foung it hilarious and memorable. It gives the character something distinctive. And then, it ain’t all that freaky. Many young guys do talk weird, even cool ones. Charlie is also the lead singer of a vocal band, along with his buddy Walter, played by… Jim Carrey!?! You got that right! Carrey was then a total unknown, and his part is very small, yet you see where he’s heading. He pulls a few physical jokes and makes some funny faces. It’s not “The Truman Show” quite yet, but you see the guy has potential.
“Peggy Sue Got maried” isn’t a perfect film, but it sure makes you feel good. Good old 50s high school romance never looked so good.