Director Francis Ford Coppola explores regret and second chances in the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married. Kathleen Turner stars as Peggy Sue in an Oscar nominated performance. The script and direction is sound and Turner is solid but not spectacular as Peggy Sue. Unfortunately, it’s everyone’s favorite whipping boy Nicolas Cage that lets this film down and ultimately makes it fun but a one time viewing experience.
The film focuses on Peggy Sue and her life with Charlie played by Nicolas Cage. Peggy Sue is a housewife and is going through a divorce with Crazy Charlie, a sleazy appliance salesman who once had it all. Charlie sleeps around and doesn’t seem to treat Peggy Sue that well. Peggy Sue attends her 25 year high school reunion and meets old friends and dreams of how things could have been if she had made different choices. She gets the opportunity to change her life and she faints and wakes up in 1960. Peggy Sue, as her older self, is back in high school and uses this opportunity to tell off some girls, stick up for a “nerdy” but ultimately rich student, and find the guy she lusted after in high school and make a move on him. During this time she was dating her future husband Charlie. In this time, Charlie has it all and this is where the film loses me. Nicolas Cage is many things, but he’s not a good looking man. To say that he’s supposed to be the center of girls screaming at him while on stage is just silly. Also, Cage decided to use a very high pitched voice in this film that really throws the character off for me. He just comes off a completely pitiful and the impression is given that Peggy Sue only stays with him because he loves her so much. Peggy Sue eventually finds her way back into the present and her choices she made in the past, have lasting consequences.
What I found interesting in the film was the choices that Coppola makes regarding the finale of the film. During the film I always had a sense that Peggy Sue would change her life in a way that would end up with her not married to Charlie. When she’s finally brought back to her present, and is still married to Charlie, I found that to be a brave choice because not everything in her life is going to be easy and there is no guarantee. While there are some different choices she makes in the past, she remains in contact with Charlie and continually attempts to break up with him. I feel like if this movie was made today, she would attempt to change things, have it be even worse than before, and then revert back to her original life which can be fun but is really predictable.