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Prince, Jerome Benton, Kristin Scott Thomas, Steven Berkoff, Emmanuelle Sallet, Alexandra Stewart, Francesca Annis
Writing Credits:
Becky Johnston

Two brothers from Miami are in the Mediterranian are enjoying life by scamming money off of rich women. One day, they read about a young woman set to inherit $50 million from her father. At first, Tricky (Jerome Benton) has Christopher Tracy (Prince) talked into romancing her for her money, but as he gets to know her, Christopher falls in love with her. This love comes between the brothers, and Tricky tells all about the plan.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$10.090 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $19.96
Release Date: 8/24/2004

• Four Music Videos
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Prince: Under The Cherry Moon (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 3, 2005)

After the enormous success of 1984’s Purple Rain as a movie and - especially - as an album, Prince could pretty much write his own ticket. Already pretty egotistical, he decided he could direct and star in his own movie.

Bad call! Parade, the album that accompanied 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon, did fairly well; it didn’t sell like Rain, but led by the megahit “Kiss”, it moved a reasonable number of units. Moon, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disaster. It came and went from theaters so fast that when I didn’t see it in its first two weeks, I didn’t get the chance to watch it; it was gone by weekend three.

I finally saw it on video at some later point, though I don’t recall that I did so enthusiastically. As with Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street, Moon generated such an overwhelming critical stench that I almost dreaded watching it.

Nothing about that screening changed my mind, though I honestly can’t recall what exactly I thought of Moon at the time. I might have hated it - who knows? In any case, I was curious to appraise it once more with this new DVD.

Set on the French Riviera, Moon introduces us to mercenary musician Christopher Tracy (Prince). He only cares about money and along with the assistance of his cohort Tricky (Jerome Benton), he uses rich women for their wealth. When he sees that billionaire heiress Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas) will come to town and he wants to go after her.

Her absentee father Isaac (Steven Berkoff) throws Mary a 21st birthday party. Chris and Tricky crash the party and try to insinuate themselves but she catches onto their act quickly. Mary bickers with Chris, who soon hooks up with Mrs. Wellington (Francesca Annis), the friend of Mary’s mother and also her father’s mistress. When Mary comes to a bar to snap at him, they engage in more romantic tension and eventually connect. Chris rapidly antagonizes Isaac as well. The movie follows the love affair between Chris and Mary as well as the problems with her father.

Look up “vanity project” in the dictionary and you’ll likely find a listing for Moon. The film essentially exists as an ode to the glory that is Prince. It favors the visual much more strongly than any storytelling elements, and the photography often concentrates on long, lingering shots of its lead. He gets glamour lighting that would look perfectly at home when used for a leading lady of the Forties. The movie accentuates Prince’s loveliness to a point of absurdity.

Otherwise, the visual elements of Moon stand as the film’s only strengths. The cinematography seems very good, as cinematographer Michael Ballhaus helps create a very attractive movie. We get a nice look at the Riviera that gives it a classic and attractive appearance. The film’s good visuals come as something of a surprise since it was shot in color and not composed for black and white; I’d never have guessed that, as it presents a nicely distinctive black and white appearance.

Too bad good looks are all it has going for it. Essentially Moon comes across as a mix of music videos and travelogue footage, as the story lacks coherence or depth. The tale fails to develop or go anywhere. It shows us lots of lovely images but doesn’t mesh well, and the flick just plods along slowly and blandly.

The flat characters don’t help. Prince displays more life than he did as himself in Purple Rain, during which he came across as flat. However, he overcompensates as Chris with a broad and campy performance that seems amateurish. None of the other actors do much better, and Benton comes as a particular disappointment. He added depth to Rain but displays an oddly mincing and fey performance here.

Actually, the movie features a heavy homoerotic vibe between Chris and Tricky that may or may not have been intentional. The pair spend a lot of time together in close contact while half-naked, and I get the impression Tricky really lusts after his buddy and not the women he dates. Sure, he pursues them throughout the movie, but he gets awfully jealous when Chris connects with Mary. It’s a weird tone to throw into the mix, and it doesn’t work.

Not that much else does succeed in Under the Cherry Moon. Essentially Prince’s love letter to himself, it moves slowly, explores its characters poorly, and lacks any cleverness or wit. The soundtrack offers some good tunes, but even that material falls short of Prince’s best; I can rattle off at least half a dozen superior albums. Put bluntly, it’s a really bad movie.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Under the Cherry Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. After a moderately rocky start, the picture quickly rebounded and presented a reasonably solid affair.

Sharpness consistently looked good. A smidgen of softness interfered on a few occasions, but not enough to cause significant distractions. Instead, the movie mainly stayed crisp and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, but I noticed mild edge enhancement at times.

Once we got past some grain and specks in the opening scene, the image cleaned up nicely. I still saw occasional examples of marks, specks and grit, but these stayed minor. The black and white picture demonstrated very nice contrast and delineation. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while whites were bright but not overly so. Low-light shots demonstrated good opacity and smoothness. All told, this ended up in a generally good picture that earned a “B”.

As for the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Under the Cherry Moon, it didn’t excel but it seemed fine for this sort of flick. Music dominated the proceedings and offered moderately good stereo imaging. Effects offered some nice delineation and localization, but they didn’t have a lot to do. They presented general atmosphere and not a lot else. The surrounds contributed light reinforcement but that was about it.

Audio quality was acceptable but not exceptional. Music caused some disappointments. I know the Prince songs well and they didn’t sound terribly good here. They lacked much definition, so while they never seemed badly off-kilter, they needed greater breadth and life. Still, despite too much low-end, the music was decent. Effects played a small role but sounded clear and accurate, and dialogue was fine. A little edginess occasionally crept into the mix, but the lines usually appeared natural and concise. Nothing great came from the audio, so Moon merited a “B-“.

When we check out the DVD’s extras, we get the flick’s trailer as well as four music videos connected to it. All for Prince tunes, these include “Girls & Boys”, “Mountains”, “Anotherloverholenyohead” and “Kiss”. “Girls” features some of that song’s performance from the movie along with extra shots of Prince and the Revolution as they lip-synch the tune. “Mountains” consists of a color version of the footage that runs over the end credits, while “Anotherloverholenyohead” offers a live performance of that tune. Finally, “Kiss” should be familiar to virtually all Prince fans. Maybe his most famous video, it shows Prince as he lip-synchs and dances next to guitarist Wendy, and also as he gets close to an anonymous dancer. All four are fun to see, especially since I believe all but “Kiss” make their DVD debuts here.

Too bad the videos are easily the best thing about this set. Under the Cherry Moon is nothing more than a misbegotten vanity project. It soothes the raging ego that was Prince in the mid-Eighties and fails to entertain, amuse or move. The DVD presents fairly good picture along with decent audio and a small set of extras highlighted by four music videos. As a Prince fan, I’ll keep the DVD in my collection for those clips, but I’ll never watch this terrible movie again.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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