Purple Rain

1984 drama

Rating: 12/20

Plot: "The Kid" tries to turn musical genius and charismatic stage presence into something marketable while dealing with family issues, a new love interest, and an equally charismatic rival.

Watch the scene in this movie where Prince twerks and tell me you're not spiritually moved. You'll be lying.

Purple Rain was my favorite album at one point. My pal Vernon and I used to listen to it, probably liking it more because it felt like a naughty thing to do. I never got around to seeing the movie, likely because it was nearly rated X and my parents or God wouldn't let me. In a way, I'm glad that I didn't see it in the 1980s. It would have ruined some of Prince's mystique. Here's Prince, a showman and music god at the height of his powers, and all the footage of he and his band on stage is electric. "Let's Go Crazy," "Darling Nikki," "Purple Rain." Whether you like the guy's music or not, you're not going to win an argument that these performances aren't special. Thank the Gods that this movie was made to document what Prince could do at this stage in his career.

Unfortunately, the "height of his powers" doesn't include his acting, and the entire movie comes across like an 80's Me-generation vanity project. You get the sense that Prince has never had to be a real person, so playing an actual human being must have been pretty difficult for him. It probably doesn't help that his character is unlikable. He slaps a woman after she's bought him a really pretty guitar, he tricks that same woman into taking her clothes off at a lake, he's mean to bandmates Wendy and Lisa, and he attempts vehicular manslaughter with that purple motorcycle of his.

Of course, there's also a scene where he performs ventriloquism in a mirror. No, I can't verify that it was actual ventriloquism, but I don't care. It still aroused me. It's the same with one of the final shots of Prince, after a mischievous fourth-wall-busting look, did his ejaculating guitar trick.

It might be the greatest moment in guitar ejaculation history.

And how hot is the love scene in this? It's like God made Prince and Appolonia for that one moment. I love how The Kid uses backward crying funk as part of the foreplay. Oh, and when Prince engages in sexual intercourse with a speaker during the orgasmic "Darling Nikki"? Turn out the lights and call it a night, Mabel!

Morris Day tops Prince's bad acting performance although "Your lips would make a lollipop too happy" is gold. There's another reason that I'm glad I didn't see this as a youngster. I would have used that line and that line alone during my formative years to pick up girls. Day's other best moment is a drunken backward walk ending with a flash and a stunning "Ha ha ha!" scene.

The dynamics between the characters make no sense, and the protagonist is really too unlikable (unless he's on stage) to make it work anyway. Still, despite the countless flaws of Purple Rain, it's got a special something that makes it really enjoyable.

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