Movie Name: Purple Rain
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date(s): July 27, 1984
MPAA Rating: R
The Kid (Prince) is struggling. At home, the abusive relationship between his father (Clarence William III) and mother (Olga Karlatos) is escalating, and at the club, there is friction between him and his band The Revolution. Morris (Morris Day) and his band The Time wants the Kid out and the arrival of a girl named Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero) who hopes to make it big in the music business could be their key to doing it. The Kid is under pressure and his choice is bend or break.
Directed by Albert Magnoli, Purple Rain is a semi-autobiographical musical picture. The film was praised for its music and received an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The film also received Razzies for Worst New Star (Apollonia Kotero) and Worst Original Song (“Sex Shooter”).
At the time Purple Rain was released, Prince was at the top of his game. I can remember watching music videos as a kid and always considering Prince the “Michael Jackson alternative” both is style and presentation. Purple Rain captures all the style of Prince but also honestly seems to demonstrate his own weaknesses…unfortunately, acting and storytelling is one of them.
Don’t watch Purple Rain for the plot. The overblown story about “The Kid” is just that. It is like watching a bad made-for-TV movie where you know every turn that the story is going to take before it takes it. This continues right up to the end where The Kid makes amends with his band and launches into “Purple Rain” which is teased throughout the movie. It isn’t a very inspired story.
The uninspired story is paired with acting that is ho-hum at best. Prince isn’t much of an actor but he looks quite skilled when compared to some of the cast. Apollonia just seems to read her lines and Morris Day doesn’t really seem to be trying either. The only time any of the actors light up is when they hit the stage and you see them in their true comfort zone.
The stage performances are what make Purple Rain and the real reason to watch the movie. Prince just oozes with his music…sexuality, passion, and power. His character is performing the less “popular” music but the more skilled music. Morris Day’s music might be likable club music but it isn’t revolutionary. It is a bit of a set-up like Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead…and Prince’s legacy is the greater of two performers as a result.
Prince’s death sparked a new interest in Purple Rain, and it was a good time to revisit it. Prince was a real artist, and Purple Rain was an experimental movie that combined the MTV mentality with a musical…revisit the Purple One with Purple Rain! Prince followed Purple Rain with Under the Cherry Moon in 1985, but Graffiti Bridge in 1990 is considered a sequel to this film.