Under the Cherry Moon (1986) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Under the Cherry Moon (1986)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Danny DISLIKEIt must be hard to explain how ubiquitous Prince was back in the early 1980's. A strange mix of what Wikipedia lists as "R&B, soul, funk, rock, blues, New Wave, psychedelia, folk, jazz and hip hop," he was one of the top artists in the country. In 1984, he starred in his first film, Purple Rain, that got him an Academy Award for best song and a hefty take at the box office as well.

Two years later and Prince has his pick of projects, so he packs off too France to film his own movie. He decides to go all out and make a black and white homage to slapstick, overwrought dramas, and throws in a lot of piano playing for good measure. This is a movie that begins with a frothy narration about love and Paris and glamor and ends with a dude wearing a sombrero and playing maracas in Heaven.

Uh, spoiler. Kinda. Though they actually kind of mention that in the opening narration, so I don't feel that bad about it.

Okay, so this is the third movie I've seen starring Prince and it's at least the second too many. Purple Rain is worth a rent if you've never seen it (or knew that Prince actually acted), and I'd almost recommend 1990's Graffiti Bridge in the so-bad-it's-good sense, but Under the Cherry Moon is too much ambition and too many ideas left to writhe and die on the screen over and over and over again.

So let me run through the plot in as brief a manner as possible since I obviously value your precious life more than my own. Prince is Chris, a gigolo and a piano player. His friend Tricky sets him up with a number of lovely rich women and gets wind of the birthday party of local heiress.

The heiress is Kristen Scott Thomas, who walks into the lavish birthday party filled with hundreds of guests and throws open her bed sheet. "How do you like my birthday suit?" she asks. And with that one moment, we see the only time in the movie where the character isn't a whiny passive sycophant. She spends the rest of the film whipping between being in love with Prince and bemoaning the threat of losing her inheritance from her philanderer (and possessively creepy) father.

So the movie has it's setup, and so we're treated to endless scenes of seduction and posturing. Chris and Tricky immediately try to give Thomas a level of culture, which they do so by taking her to a ritzy night club and lecturing her on how she knows nothing.

Their main point in this argument involves Prince writing the following words on a napkin and then ceaselessly mocking her for not knowing the meaning. In case you can't make it out, those words are "Wrecka Stow."

So do you, the audience at home, know what "Wrecka Stow" is?

Bing, time's up. It's how Prince and Tricky pronounce 'Record Store'! Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha.

Following that, Prince and Tricky break out the boom box and everyone in the fancy restaurant breaks out dancing to their funky beats. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

This movie just drones on. The whole thing is shot like one of Prince's overwrought music videos, compounded by the melodramatic touches of magically appearing candles and disconnected imagery. The black and white cinematography is wholly unimpressive, looking like your home movies are with the filter switch flicked.

Even worse, the character arcs are more like character sine waves, as all of the characters take their turns at being petty and jealous before the next scene begins and everyone can rotate their emotional setup. Add to that the fact that this film is filled with nothing but trivial and sometimes awful music that never seems to connect to what's happening on screen and you have a true mess of a film that isn't even enjoyable to deconstruct.

But, hell, at least it looks like Prince had fun. And that's the best thing I can say about it.

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Under the Cherry Moon (1986)

This film is currently available on DVD and Netflix Instant.

Trailer | IMDB
Directed by Prince
Written by Becky Johnston
Starring Prince and Kristen Scott Thomas

Posted by Danny

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