Picks and Pans Review: Peggy Sue Got Married

updated 09/29/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

No one will ever mistake this giddy, romantic comedy for a classic. Combining Back to the Future zap with Our Town sap, the film feels patched together. But after a quartet of tortoise-paced fiascos (Cotton Club, Rumblefish, The Outsiders, One from the Heart), director Francis Coppola steps lively this time. Delivering a performance of depth and conviction is the ever-dazzling Kathleen (Prizzi's Honor) Turner. In a role originally meant for Debra Winger, Turner plays Peggy Sue, an ex-prom queen attending the reunion of her 1960 high school class. Portraying a slightly dumpy housewife is a stretch for the potently sexy Turner, even with unflattering costumes and some added poundage. But the actress finds the heart of a character who is distraught because her TV pitchman husband and childhood sweetheart, played by Nicolas (Birdy) Cage, has ditched her for a younger woman. Spotting her errant hubby at the reunion sends Turner into a faint that propels her backward 25 years with the chance to alter her future. Though hardly original, the idea still sparks exuberant hindsight laughs. Turner shocks her stuffy parents, Don Murray and Barbara Harris, by guzzling the family booze supply. She stuns the school nerd—splendidly acted by Barry (Fame) Miller—with her descriptions of computers, panty hose and jogging shoes, and surprises boyfriend Cage, an aspiring singer, with a song she promises him will be a big hit. (She's right: It's the Beatles' She Loves You.) But when Turner tries some liberated '80s sexual thinking on Cage and the school poet, played by Kevin O'Connor, things backfire. So does the movie, which turns mawkish and unbelievable in its final quarter. Another nagging problem is the casting of 30ish actors, who don't seem to be convincingly 18 or 43. As Turner's buddy, Joan Allen (so fine as the menaced blind woman in Manhunter) is a brilliant exception; Cage, a dud as a romantic hero for any decade, is not. No use denying that Peggy Sue Got Married has its share of problems. But when Coppola clears the way for Turner to mine the veins of rude humor in this Arlene Sarner-Jerry Leichtling screenplay, the film proves to be spirited fun. (PG-13)

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