Cher: The Film Collection – DVD Review

Cher has had an interesting career from variety show star with Sonny Bono to pop star to film actress. This box set presents a good cross section of her films from the worst to the best. It starts with her first couple of starring roles and goes up through the late ’90s, and Cher’s last big role before this year’s Burlesque.

Good Times (1967 – 92 min.) Watching this film one never would have guessed that Cher could have had a successful film career. It’s not that she’s really bad in this, but everything else about this film is just awful. Sonny Bono and Cher (playing themselves) are asked to star in a movie. Sonny is excited about the idea, Cher not so much. Sonny spends the rest of the film fantasizing about what the film might be. The film’s ending comes off more a series of skits then a film with a story. The other real shocker with Good Times is that it was directed by William Friedkin, of French Connection and Exorcist fame.

Chastity (1969 – 82 min.) Perhaps realizing he couldn’t act, Sonny wisely decided to stay off camera in this film he wrote for Cher. In it Cher play Chastity, a young runaway who wants to experience the world. Chastity proves that Cher had acting chops, but it’s such a mess of a movie and flopped so horribly that Cher wouldn’t act again until the 1980s. Again, lacking much in the way of plot, this film follows Chastity as she wanders around either talking to herself or having long inner monologues. The most surreal moment of the film comes when Chastity is hanging out with the Madame of a Mexican brothel and they have a montage at the fair. Huh?

Silkwood (1983 – 131 min.) Three films into this box set and thirteen years later we finally get to the first good film in this set. Mike Nichols directs Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood who, along with her boyfriend, Drew (Kurt Russell) and lesbian roommate, Dolly (Cher), all work at a plutonium processing plant in Oklahoma. Based on a true story, when Karen is exposed to radiation she tries to expose all of the worker safety violations at the plant. While great, this is a very sad and frustrating film. The principals are all in top form, both Streep and Cher were nominated for their performances.

Moonstruck (1987 – 102 min.) Cher shines in her academy award winning performance as Loretta Castorini, a woman engaged to Johnny (Danny Aiello) but falls in love with his brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) while he’s away. This film could have easily been forgettable if not for the superb performances by Cher and Cage. What’s even more impressive to me in retrospect is the fact that this film and Raising Arizona came out the same year and Cage plays to two drastically different rolls in each.

Mermaids (1990 – 110 min.) This is the story of the off-beat relationship between a single mother (Cher) and her two daughters, Charlotte (Winona Ryder) and Kate (Christina Ricci). While Cher certainly gives another strong performance, this film is really all about Ryder and a very young, pre-Wednesday Addams Ricci in her first big role. Also in this film is Bob Hoskins as the surprisingly charming love interest for Cher.

Tea With Mussolini (1999 – 117 min.) In the final film of this collection Cher joins a very strong cast of actresses (Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Lily Tomlin )for director Franco Zeffirelli’s semi-autobiographical film. A group of British socialites must deal with the changing times in Italy during WWII. It’s an interesting look at the war from a very different and personal perspective. In this film Cher plays the obnoxious American that at first the upright Brits hate but learn to like at the end.

Going into this collection I’d not seen a single one of these films. After the first two very painful films I was quite surprised to see the range and talent that Cher has as an actress. While I understand why the first two films were included, I think the box set could have benefited better from films like Mask or The Witches of Eastwick.

All films are presented in widescreen 1.85:1. Chastity and Tea With Mussolini can also be watched in 1.33:1 full screen. Good Times, Chastity and Silkwood are in Mono. Moonstruck and Tea With Mussolini are in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround. Mermaids is in Stereo. The look and sound qualities of each of these films varies with Good Times and Chastity being a little muddy and the rest of the films looking quite nice.

Each film has its original trailer.

Moonstruck has the same special feature available on the Deluxe Edition. Commentary with Cher, Norman Jewison and John Patrick Shanley and over 30 minutes of featurettes: Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family, Pasta To Pastries: The Art of Fine Italian Food and Music Of Moonstruck.

This collection is a really mixed bag. The first two films are really pretty awful while the other four films are really solid. If you are an official member of the Cher Fan Club, then this would be a good collection to pick up. However, you’re probably better off just buying the films you like in this collection individually.

Fox Home Entertainment presents Cher: The Film Collection. Starring Cher, Sonny Bono, Kurt Russell, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci, Judi Dench and Lily Tomlin. Good Times and Chastity are Not Rated. Silkwood Rated R. Moonstruck and Tea With Mussolini Rated PG. Mermaids Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: November 2, 2010. Box Set Contents: 6 films on 6 DVDs.

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