Purple Rain [Retro Review]

“Nobody digs your music but yourself!”

The Scoop: 1984 R, directed by Albert Magnoli and starring Prince, Apollonia Kotero and Morris Day

Tagline: None

Summary: Two crazy kids are struggling with their dreams of becoming singers, and a little thing called love, in that music capitol of the world – Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Eunice’s Rating: Purple Rain is a good album. Even today it’s still pretty solid. What’s that? “What about the movie?”…

Eunice’s Review: You know it’s a good thing you don’t have to be a good movie in order to be a cult movie. Because this one’s bad, and rarely in the fun way.

This is a singer vehicle and usually the protagonist in such a movie would be an underdog with a heart of gold struggling to make it in the biz, and end up finding love both for themselves and others while playing up the their vocal talent and getting in some positive press. But this is where Purple Rain sets itself apart. You see our main character here is The Kid played by Prince, and Prince seems determined to prove that giant egomaniacal jack asses can come in small packages. A jack ass who kinda puts off a serial killer vibe. He whines and divas and tantrums and bullys his way through the whole movie. We learn his band’s about to walk out on him because he’s a paranoid jerk. Which won’t matter anyway as he’s about to lose his gig at a hot club because he doesn’t want to be successful (You see he’s one of Lissa’s Bohemians). Instead of him needing to stick to his own music and be true to himself, the message here is his music sucks and he should listen to everyone else. Personally, I think that last one is funny and at least different.

Our female lead is Apollonia, played by Apollonia (pronounced “Apple own ya’”). For some reason she’s left New Orleans, bypassed Nashville, and opted out of going to either New York or LA to start her music career. Maybe it’s some sort of Minneapolis in the 80s thing I’m missing, but I suspect she just threw a dart at a map. In any case, she finds herself broke and trying to get her big break at the same club as The Kid. He does his hottest creepy weirdo impersonation and woos fair lady’s heart.

Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen chemistry this bad, and the middle school level acting and script doesn’t help. For their first date he pulls a horrible prank on her, the second he shows her his parents making out before taking her down to his love nest in the basement of said parents’ house (I can’t make this up), and the third one he smacks her. To give an idea of how hot their banter is, here’s a sample piece of seductive dialogue:

“Who gave it to you?” “A person.” “Male or female?” “Huh?” “You’re lying, I can tell just by your reaction you’re lying. So you gave it to me, it’s not yours anymore.”

Rowr.

But, wait, what about the rest of the movie? Well, almost no one can act (Clarence Williams III is the exception), there are leaps of logic so big you’d need an Olympic gold medalist to jump them, the writing isn’t only awful but repetitive (and I’m not talking just about the flashbacks), and while I realize technically the directing is probably worse it’s the jumpy editing that really stands out… which is the problem.

Also, the movie suffers from schizophrenia. It’ll segue from the comedic antagonists doing an homage to Abbott and Costello’s ‘Who’s on First’ routine to a straight faced scene of domestic violence. You’re obviously supposed to root for The Kid, but he’s such a douche. The movie is about showcasing the music, but it takes itself so seriously and has all these characters and plotlines that go nowhere. It’s too dark to be funny, and too goofy to be a real drama, and too mean spirited for either.

So is there anything good about it? It has a great soundtrack. Um, it’s a very 80s time capsule. Morris is actually pretty funny. Erm, Apollonia’s amazing breasts. Lots of purple, you know, if it’s your favorite color. That’s all I got.

Just stick with the soundtrack.

And this was BEFORE he got weird.

Intermission!

  • An early, simpler, version of the unpronounceable symbol that Prince changed his name to during his dispute with Warner Bros. Records is painted on the side Prince’s motorcycle’s gas tank.
  • Everyone except Prince is called by their real names? Always a sign of excellence.
  • Most of the songs were recorded live.
  • Staring holes into the back of someone’s head from three inches away is, like, totally smexy?
  • For all the slapping around going on in this movie nobody ever has any bruising?
  • I’m not a guy, but I’m not sure it’s wise having someone who you’re fighting with that close to your crotch.
  • The old church lady rocking out to Apollonia’s set?
  • No blood by the outline? Oh, wait, there wouldn’t even be an outline.
  • Morris’ quiet moment in the hallway at the end.
  • Purple Rain! *breaks out lighter*

Groovy Quotes

Morris: Your lips would make a lollipop too happy.

Matt Fink-The Revolution: God got Wendy’s periods reversed. About every 28 days she starts acting nice. Lasts about a weekend.

Morris: I have a brass… waterbed.

Dad: You got a girlfriend?
The Kid: Yeah, I got a girlfriend.
Dad: You gonna get married?
The Kid: I don’t know.
Dad: …Never get married.

Apollonia: Where’s Jerome?
Morris: In his skin!

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Graffiti Bridge
  • Cool As Ice
  • Rock Star
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5 Comments

  1. It’s probably worth mentioning that this movie was so bad that not even the MAD magazine parody (“Purple Acid Rain’) was funny.
    Except for the line where The Kid remarks he still lives at home because his Mom’s the only woman in town who’ll iron his fancy colonial shirts.

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