Picks and Pans Review: Under the Cherry Moon

updated 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It's all but impossible to take this film seriously. For one thing, "a film by Prince" sounds like a German shepherd's home movie. For another, in his first directing try Prince seems to have been trying to wrap up an Oscar for lifetime achievement in narcissism. Playing a lounge-pianist-gigolo on the Riviera, he flounces, primps, preens, leers, flirts and minces through what amounts to a nearly nonstop close-up. The tone is set by the opening shot, in which he shows himself seated at a piano wearing a garish shirt and a sequined flapper's cap: He looks like a silent movie vamp with a mustache and too much eye makeup. There are moments when he seems to be sending himself up. At one point he says he's floating, and his co-star, the Julie Andrews-like newcomer, Kristin Scott-Thomas, says, "It would be easy to float with a head as inflated as yours." But it would take 11 boxcars full of Jerry Lewis movies to disarm the self-adoration Cherry Moon suggests. It's all in black and white—in homage to the '40s romantic movies Prince admires—and while he wrote all the music, he performs only briefly onscreen. The basic plot has him falling in love with a rich socialite, Scott-Thomas. Her father, sternly played by Steven (Rambo) Berkoff, questions his daughter's taste in men. Predictable consequences ensue. As a director, Prince demonstrates an eye for intriguing images, yet he does not always notice when his actors' attention wanders. Scott-Thomas' eyes sometimes roll as if she's about to faint. And the script, by Becky Johnston, takes a thudding, melodramatic turn at the end of what has been a romantic comedy. Like Elvis Presley, Prince has the charisma to carry an atrocious movie—real fans just want to see him—but even Elvis never got so carried away with himself that he thought he could direct. (PG-13)

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