PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED
Francis Ford Coppola, like Martin Scorsese, has a limitless ability to dabble in almost any genre that takes his fancy he has covered everything from gangster films, war movies, Chick Flicks, horror, childrens films, musicals and courtroom thrillers. Peggy Sue Got Married was Coppolas venture into whimsical fantasy. It was a production where, following the problems with American Zoetrope, Coppola signed on as a director-for-hire after the likes of Jonathan Demme and Penny Marshall had opted out. Thus, Peggy Sue Got Married is a less personal film that many of Coppolas other works. (To signify such, for the first time Coppola drops the Ford from his name and bills himself as merely Francis Coppola). Peggy Sue Got Married was highly acclaimed in many quarters in fact, it was placed on many critics Top 10 lists for the year. Notedly, the places Peggy Sue Got Married was acclaimed were amongst those who were its demographic audience the fortysomething age group, while it received almost no attention or coverage within the science-fiction/fantasy genre.
There seems too much of a respectability to Peggy Sue Got Married to dare suggest it is a Back to the Future (1985) copycat. Nevertheless it is, even if it its aims are a little higher than exploitation. It is a likable affair in places but ultimately unmoving. It is certainly one of Francis Ford Coppolas blander films look at it alongside the epic sweep of The Godfather or Apocalypse Now and you see just how lacking it is. There are some amusing parodies of the Beat Generation and a certain wit in the scenes with Peggy Sues parents their reaction to her taking a drink to steady her nerves, her bursting out in laughter at her father bringing home a brand-new Edsel but this lacks the uproariousness of true humour. Moreover, when the film cannot keep it up, all there is to fall back on is a flaky sentimental lack of sincerity.
Its central conceit aside, Peggy Sue Got Married is a film that is negligible as fantasy. It is devoid of real science-fiction too any explanation of its time-travel phenomenon is wholly ignored. (Other pieces like the lodge having been founded by a time-traveller are never explained either). As with many sf/fantasy films of the 1980s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future and others it is a narcissistic fantasy of Baby Boomers being able to set their lives right. Despite their similarities, there is an enormous difference between Peggy Sue Got Married and Back to the Future whereas Back to the Future came with a clever, snappy plot driven by sharp twists and filled with witty cultural asides, Peggy Sue Got Married only wallows in nostalgia. All its fantasy is is the maudlin one of a middle-aged housewife sorting out her failed marriage. Here Francis Ford Coppola even fails to allow Kathleen Turner to rearrange her own life, merely ending with her banally settling for the same old life all over again.
Kathleen Turner comes close to pulling it all together with her sly, natural ability with humour, even if she never for a moment succeeds in convincing us she is a teenager. The film is handicapped by Nicholas Cage (Coppolas cousin) in Silly Performance mode, where Coppola allows him to play in a ridiculous hoarse voice the whole way through. Cage clearly has a good deal of natural charisma and energy but it is the distracting silliness of the voice that does him in he is like a teenager whose voice is dropping. (In her recent autobiography, Kathleen Turner amusingly claimed that much of this was done by the young Cage to publicly defy Coppola and show people he was not under his uncles wing, although Cage issued vigorous denials of this claim).
Peggy Sue Got Married was later uncreditedly remade as the French Camille Rewinds (2012), directed by and starring Noemie Lvovsky.
Francis Ford Coppolas other films of genre interest are: the re-edited Russian sf film Battle Beyond the Sun (1963); the psycho-thriller Dementia 13/The Haunted and the Hunted (1963); the leprechaun musical Finians Rainbow (1968); Bram Stokers Dracula (1992); Youth Without Youth (2007) about a man who miraculously regains his youth; and the ghost story/vampire film Twixt (2011). Coppola has also produced work within the genre from George Lucass debut feature THX 1138 (1971), the alien visitor tv movie The People (1972), the ghost story Haunted (1995), the tv mini-series White Dwarf (1995) set on an alien world, Andrei Konchalovskis epic mini-series version of The Odyssey (1997), the X Files ripoff tv series First Wave (1998), the Hawaiian supernatural revenge film Lanai-Loa: The Resurrection (1998), Agnieszka Hollands Catholicism and miracles drama The Third Miracle (1999), Victor Salvas Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Jeepers Creepers II (2003), and the eccentric Hal Hartley monster movie No Such Thing (2001).