I will start by saying: it’s been years since I watched Purple Rain. With my combination of ADHD and my pre-dementia (just joking?), it was like watching it for the first time. I will start by asking: WHAT THE FUCK? I did not remember the acting being so horrible. The father, Clarence Williams III, was the only believable actor. The plot is about the Kid, played by Prince, an aspiring songwriter/musician. The Kid is struggling not to repeat the abusive and destructive behavior he witnesses from his father. While battling his father’s abusive relationship with his mother, the Kid, meets another aspiring musician, Apollonia, played by Apollonia Kotero. They have an immediate and intense attraction to each other. Their attraction is chronicled through Purple Rain’s kick ass soundtrack. Unfortunately, Prince is a man-child, who is paranoid and disturbed like his father. Prince is constantly mistreating Apollonia and the female members in his band, The Revolution. He is antagonistic, rude, and downright mean to the ladies in The Revolution, Lisa and Wendy. All they want is for him to listen to the songs that they wrote for their band. Prince is battling several personal and professional demons. Morris, played by Morris Day, is the Kid’s musical nemesis. Morris is trying to get Apollonia to join his girl band (later deemed Apollonia 6). Morris wants Apollonia 6 to take over the Kid’s nightly gig. The story is told through Prince’s real-life soundtrack, Purple Rain.
There are too many perspectives to write this review from: psychological, feminist, and/or artistic/nostalgic. I will give a brief description of the first two perspectives, but to keep it positive, I will write the full review from an artistic/nostalgic perspective.
If from a psychological perspective: there are some serious dysfunctional/abnormal behaviors, and mental disorders showcased. Because of my psychology background, I hereby order the family into some intensive family, marriage, and individual counseling. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson would say that the Kid did not properly go through the stages of development. The Kid is a man-child that throws tantrums through song and pelvic thrusts.
From a feminist perspective: This movie would be banned. There is violence against women throughout the movie: verbal, emotional, psychological, and physical. Here are a just a few examples. Prince’s father is a wife beater. Throughout the movie the father abuses the mother and his son. The Kid repeats patterns of abuse by slapping and pushing his girlfriend. Morris Day’s wingman, Jerome, body slams a woman into a dumpster. Prince also gets Apollonia to take off her clothes in return for his help with her music career (surprise, surprise). This seemed like another opportunity to show some tig ol’ bitties (big titties for those of you who don’t listen to rap). I will say… it was interesting to see real breasts in a movie again. Oh, and let’s not forget Morris referring to women as “bitches”, and “motherfuckas.”
Despite what seems like a negative review, I have decided to write the review based on artistry and nostalgia. My review is more about the soundtrack and how it time-capsuled Prince and my nostalgia. The movie was nostalgic because I remember the songs and what was going on in my life as a kid. The movie was a time capsule for my joy and dysfunction as a child. The movie is definitely a musical/drama, and highly emotive. The Kid seemed to have a musical tantrum throughout the movie. I will describe musical tantrums in chronological order, by song. The first of many outbursts is when Prince sees his new girlfriend dining with musical nemesis, Morris. Prince sings the song Beautiful Ones. The lyrics are:
“…Baby, baby, baby
What’s it gonna be?
Oh baby, baby, baby
Is it him or is it me?”
Prince screams out the lyrics with passion at Apollonia. He is begging for her attention by keeping eye contact with her during the entire song.
One of the main features of our Valentine’s event is a sexy movie. Purple Rain partially delivers that. The next intense scene takes place to the song titled God. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I don’t think God would have appreciated this. The song starts off with a woman moaning, then goes into an instrumental. I would say that this sex scene called for a song like Do Me Baby, not God! The first and only sex scene takes place in the Kid’s bedroom. Prince swings Apollonia’s leg across her, and flips her into a position not facing him (some call it doggy style). He then lifts her body up and starts kissing her neck, while rubbing down the front of her body. This scene is rather graphic. I watched it three times before I was able to close my mouth. Prince stroked Apollonia through her panties and underneath them. HOT DAMN! (I didn’t remember that as a kid). This scene is erotic, sensual, and orgasm inspiring. The acting in this movie is so bad that you know this scene was real. I felt like I was watching a porno.
The next tantrum was a song called Darling Nikki. Two things come to mind when Prince sings Darling Nikki. One, Darling Nikki is one of the most intense scenes and songs in the movie. The lyrics, “I met her in a hotel lobby, masturbating with a magazine…” is Prince’s way of making Apollonia uncomfortable after the break up. This song induces tears from Apollonia because Prince’s words make her feel like their “relationship” was a raunchy affair. Second, I think of Karaoke. I was dared to sing this song at Karaoke. Because I don’t take dares lightly, IT WAS ON! I started the song in a chair, and ended it on the floor. That’s right, I humped the hell out of the floor. I can’t sing, so I had to confuse and distract my audience.
The last performance in Purple Rain is Baby I’m a Star. My response… you sure and the fuck are, but not because of this movie. It’s because you are one of the greatest, sexiest, most talented dancers, songwriters, performers, and musicians of all time. The song Baby I’m a Star wraps up the drama after the Kid’s father shoots himself. This song is performed while we get a glimpse of how the Kid is moving forward with his life. Prince finally sings Lisa and Wendy’s song (which is a hit), he gets Apollonia back (even though he needs domestic violence classes), and he starts using his father’s old compositions (which are noteworthy).
Don’t watch this movie for the acting; watch it to see Prince perform his famous dance across the stage, while licking his fingers, screaming, and rubbing his crotch. If that’s not enough reason, watch it for the live performances of a great album!
Excellent review! I’m sorry that it sort of burst your ’80s bubble, though, but what’s funny about that is that my more careful re-examination of this was pretty much directly influenced by your enthusiasm for it prior to your re-watch. I remember the first time I saw it, I was so troubled by how brazen it was with all the abuse, all the while you were telling me how much you loved it. So that didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t say anything. So when we decided to do it for this event, I went into it hoping to find something to like about it under the surface, which I imagined you were holding onto to justify some of the domestic violence. So I’m surprised to find out it was just a case of nostalgia. In any case, I’m glad to have re-watched it and gotten something new out of it.
Prince is definitely an underdeveloped man-child in this, spot-on! I’ve always wondered if he had already written the songs and they wrote a movie around them, or if it was the other way around. The musical tantrums make it feel in a way like the songs were written first (as the story is so reactionary and simplistic), but then again you connected the songs really, really well to the story, so that makes me think the movie was written first (or at least the basic framework was).
The first time I saw this, I also had to re-watch that sex scene to make sure I had just seen what I thought I saw. It definitely feels pornographic and it’s amazing that even almost 30 years later, it’s still shocking. Just as shocking is the karaoke story! I wish I could see the faces of everyone in that place!
Purple Rain – a Prince starring porno. Can’t wait.
(actually, I can. Might have to illegally download this so that the drawven imbecile doesn’t get any of my hard earned money. Then again, why waste good bandwidth on something so obviously not made for human eyes.)