As a big-time movie nerd, I’m always trying to work in some film-related achievements. In past years, we’ve appreciated important classics via our Hulk Hogan movie marathon, our Dave Matthews movie marathon, and, of course, our Jean-Claude Van Damme movie marathon (complete with appropriate Van Damme food pairings). This year, though, we decided to celebrate the cinematic works of a man, a musician, a Minnesotan (and for a time, a symbol): one Prince Rodgers Nelson, better known to this world and the after-world as…Prince.
Now, Fox is a huge Prince fan (on the order of “Part of my life plan is to own a little red Corvette someday”), and I enjoy his music quite a bit as well (on the order of “Hell yes, I’ll sing some Prince at karaoke, seeing as we’re basically the same height and all”). But until our movie marathon night, I’d never actually seen a Prince movie. Fox wanted to introduce me by going least favorite to most favorite, but it was ultimately deemed unfeasible because Graffiti Bridge is technically a sequel to Purple Rain, and I didn’t want to, ahem, witness the dramatic arc of The Kid out of order. Anyhow, that is the reason we came to begin with…
…Under the Cherry Moon. We had decided earlier to pair each film with an appropriately themed beverage; the drinks providing support to the DVD box (and later, perhaps to us emotionally) are indeed called a Cherry Moon.
Well, it was not at all what I was expecting — a black-and-white dramedy with a bunch of goofy, screwball-type humor. The acting and tone were pretty all over the place; at times I felt myself wondering, “Was there even a director?” (Oh, Prince directed it? …Well, then.) Still, I did have fun watching it, and I enjoyed the music and aesthetics very much. The black and white was lovely, the fashion was suitably outrageous, the relationship between Prince’s Christopher and Jerome Benton’s Tricky made me laugh, and overall the humor and silliness was very welcome. I don’t know if I’d recommend it to a non-Prince fan, but it’s worthwhile viewing if you are.
Next, we moved on to the transmedia extravaganza that launched Prince to being a household name: Purple Rain. (And yes, that is a homemade Purple Rain handbag in the background.)
First, let’s review the drink: simply put, Purple Rain the beverage is disgustingly sweet. This Dimetapp-ass war crime was so syrupy that Crystal Pepsi should’ve jumped in a Delorean and come to warn me, “Hey, this one’s a little over-the-top.” It was so sugar-packed that the only thing that could salvage it was dumping two ounces of Appleton Estate V/X rum in each glass to take it pseudo-Tiki.
I’m glad we were able to save the drink, because Purple Rain the movie was damn good! This one delivered exactly what I wanted from a Prince movie — many Prince concert performances, wild clothing, and sleazy Morris Day and the Time. There were some surprises, too, though. For one, I was impressed at how developed the character of The Kid was. The home life drama, and the subplot about his abusive ex-musician father, the question of whether The Kid would become an abuser like him…it was compelling stuff, if inadequately resolved. (No, Apollonia, he hit you multiple times! Don’t just go back to him to serve the plot!) Still, it was a pleasant surprise that Prince would play a character with such deep flaws — the Kid is actually psychologically messed up, and Purple Rain is better for it. The other surprise, not-so-pleasant? Prince appears to be a terrible kisser! At least, a terrible movie kisser. In each scene with some make-out time, Fox was like, “Nooooo, Prince, no, don’t ruin my dreams!” And I was quietly like, “Yes, I’m a better kisser than Prince.”
Okay, Purple Rain is work of fiction, so let’s be more generous — I’m a better kisser than Prince’s character, the Kid, who is the worst kisser. Perhaps it’s his youth?
…Okay, it’s not his youth. The Kid is still a bad kisser six years later, in Graffiti Bridge. Unlike the last two films, there was no alcoholic equivalent to Graffiti Bridge, so we had to concoct one. In honor of this film’s returning villains, Morris Day and the Time, we dubbed this drink a Thyme Collins. (And even though it’s out of bounds, discographically speaking, you know we had to make our drink wear a raspberry beret.)
Sadly, the drink came pretty close to being the high point of our Graffiti Bridge screening. All that complexity the Kid had in Purple Rain? I guess he aged out of it. For most of the run-time Prince was just all meditative and pensive and beyond it all. Half the time I found myself thinking, “Take a chill pill, Morris Day! Take whatever the opposite of a chill-pill is, Prince! Let’s go party at George Clinton’s club!” (Yes, there are like five different music clubs on this one block where the film mostly takes place, and one of them is owned by George Clinton.) The weird religious overtones were kind of off-putting for me; the first movie was fairly gritty realism, whereas this “unofficial” sequel has an actual Angel-From-Heaven who comes to shake Prince’s character out of his funk…by dry-humping him. (I think I just made this sound way more awesome than it is on screen.)
All that said, there were flashes in Graffiti Bridge of the Prince I know and love — such as the wonderfully bizarre underpants-and-thigh-highs combo that he wears while performing “Thieves in the Temple.” That, my friends, is the viewing’s true high point.
So, that was our Prince Movie Marathon of 2015. Under the Cherry Moon is good stuff for Prince fans; Purple Rain is good stuff for everybody; and Grafitti Bridge is good stuff to keep locked away in your Prince memorabilia vault.
What, you don’t have one of those?