I’ve seen several people on the Flixter and Netflix comparing Francis Ford Coppola’s 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married to the Robert Zemeckis time-travel classic Back to the Future. Both movies involve characters who find themselves in the past for one reason or another, and… um… well, I guess that’s about the extent of their similiarities. But if it’s any consolation, IMDB has informed me that they changed a line wherein Peggy (Kathleen Turner) told somebody that she had come ‘back from the future’ for fear of reminding people of the other movie. I don’t really get quite how that would be problematic, but whatever.
Personally, if we’re making movie comparisons here, the film that this most reminds me of is Pleasantville. In that movie, characters are transported to a somewhat nostalgic time period and do not know quite how to resolve their futuristic morality with the spit-shined 1950’s world that they have come to inhabit.
And if that doesn’t do it for you: both movies are sweet, but light-weight.
Yes, Peggy Sue is a time traveller. The movie opens at Peggy’s twentieth-odd high school reunion. She is meeting up with lots of people she has all but forgotten about. Her husband, Charlie (Nicolas Cage), is an appliance god and the two of them are on the brink of divorce because they are not compatible and he has had multiple affairs. In fact, Charlie has decided not to come to the reunion just so that Peggy would not be uncomfortable. When Peggy is crowned “most 1950’s-looking” at the dance, she faints from shock and awakes back in 1960, just before graduation.
A lot of the film is just cute moments where Peggy has the mind of a grown woman, but must survive in a teenager’s world. It’s kind of like a one-sided Freaky Friday in that way. She swigs some of her father’s bourbon, not realizing that when he gets home and finds her tipsy, she will be in trouble because she’s still a teenager. She is constantly making odd statements that her friends inexplicably ignore (e.g. “You were always doing things like that”).
When she realizes that she has the chance to do everything over again, she decides that she wants to disassociate herself from Charlie, the boyfriend whom she wound up marrying. Cage here plays a great, sweet kid who is hard to imagine as the adulterer that we know from the early scenes. He has taken on a voice here that is kind of annoying at first, which IMDB tells me is supposed to sound like Pokey from the “Gumby” television series, but which reminded me more of Doug Funny from Nickelodeon’s “Doug”.
Everybody begins to catch on to the fact that Peggy is acting kind of strangely, and she in fact lets a few choice people in on the fact that she is from the future. They all accept this news a little bit more easily than I would expect. Also, she doesn’t really spend as much time worrying about how she will get back to the present time as one might expect, either. A very strange girl, that Peggy Sue.
The movie is occasionally funny, sometimes touching, and always cheerfully sweet. It’s an entertaining diversion, although something of a let-down considering that it comes from Francis Ford Coppola, director of arguably the most well-renowned movie of the past fifty years. So, yeah, all in all, Peggy Sue Got Married is lightweight, but sunny. And that’s okay.
P.S. One thing that I have to mention: throughout the film, I was annoyed repeatedly by Peggy Sue’s kid sister. The girl who played her could not act! Every scene that she was in, she read her lines with such a stilted delivery that it became grating. I was amazed that anybody would have that much difficulty with such a minor role. It was only once the credits rolled that I found out that the girl who played Peggy’s sister was none other than Sofia Coppola!
I guess she’s better off directing.