Flamboyant rock musical marking the film debut for maverick pop singer Prince. Prince stars as The Kid, an ambitious and talented young musician from a harsh, poverty-stricken background struggling to win love and musical recognition in Minneapolis. When he meets fellow aspiring singer Appollonia (Appollonia Kitero), he is completely smitten - but when he replicates the abusive behaviour of his father (Clarence Williams III), he looks set to lose her forever. Can he win her back from his arch enemy, lead singer of rival group 'The Time' Morris Day? Essentially a vehicle for the tracks from his album of the same name, the film is loosely based on events in Prince's early career.
While "rock musical" remains a phrase used by sadistic parents to give their offspring nightmares the genre does occasionally throw up the odd gem, Purple Rain
being perhaps the shiniest example. Given the theatricality of Prince's stage shows, it was only a matter of time before the diminutive pop potentate found himself a big-screen vehicle but few could have predicted that Purple Rain
would become nothing less than a cultural phenomenon. The story, co-written by one-time Starsky & Hutch
scripter William Blinn, may be a somewhat hackneyed tale with His Purpleness overcoming a troubled background and musical rival Morris Day to achieve his dreams of rock stardom. However, the cast, which also includes Prince protegée Appollonia, rises above the clichés to hand in a set of performances which, while never likely to trouble the Oscars, prove that all concerned can at least play a rough approximation of themselves with minimal difficulty. What really helped push the film's box-office receipts through the roof, however, was its soundtrack featuring a clutch of hit singles--notably "When Doves Cry"--and which cemented our pint-sized hero's position as one of the globe's premiere performing artists. Sadly, subsequent attempts to re-bottle this particular brand of lightning with Under a Cherry Moon
and Graffiti Moon
would prove substantially less successful but Purple Rain
still looks--and, more importantly sounds--rarely less than funktastic. --Clark Collis