And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story has a pretty self-explanatory title. But is this docudrama worth a look for fans of Sonny &—well, of Cher?
Okay, I'll confess right off the bat that I saw this movie when it originally aired as a made-for-TV movie a couple of years back. And I liked it! I liked it!
Watching it again, I still liked it! The movie begins with Sonny (portrayed by Jay Underwood) on David Letterman (Dave didn't appear as himself, it was an impersonator). A question from Dave sparks Sonny's memory and we flashback to the sixties, and Sony becomes narrator.
And so begins the Sonny and Cher story. Although based on the real Sonny's autobiography, this movie manages to stay away from too much Cher bashing or scandal. It's a rather light, straightforward romp through the lives of the famous couple. Renee Faia as Cher, and Jay Underwood as Sonny have excellent chemistry, and were perfectly cast. I had no "that's so not the real Sonny and Cher" hang-ups.
I particularly enjoy the rock n' roll history angles of this type of film. Here, we see some big names pass through the lives of Sonny and Cher, including Little Richard, Phil Spector, and David Geffen. The affairs of both Sonny and Cher are touched upon, so at least Sonny was honest about his own flaws, and we see why Cher is presented as a stubborn force in breaking apart their "business" relationship.
The movie drastically simplifies their lives to get the whole story—or at least highlights of it—into a two hour movie that originally had commercials (and speaking of, the commercial fades are excellently edited out, so you never notice that there were once commercials). No particular details are focused upon in the movie. For instance, there's a hint that Cher and David Geffen may have had something together, but it's never revealed that his attraction to her was probably due more to his love of divas than love of women. According to the movie, Sonny met Cher in a lesbian bar and was confused as to her sexual preference—seemed like they really focused on that scene to give a nod to the uncountable number of gay fans Cher has…and maybe to show the irony of what their family's future held? And there again, tons of details were left out. We don't see the Chastity years played out. We never find out about Sonny's political career. We basically go from the breakup of the couple to their reuniting on David Letterman years later. Which is a reminder that we pretty much already know everything there is to know about Sonny and Cher and don't need a docudrama to tell us anything new. Which is why I appreciated this movie particularly for its references to pop music history.
The movie's aspect ratio is a standard 1:33:1 full screen format. Since it was made for television, this movie probably isn't available in a widescreen format. The print is excellent, with hardly any sign of wear. The picture quality is vivid, but there is some softness around the edges and slight color saturation. Also, the flesh tones were on the pink side.
The 2-channel stereo sound was excellent with thought and effort put into the separation. The rock n' roll oldies used in the film also sounded crystal clear when they kicked in, with good bass response.
And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny & Cher Story is an easy to digest summary of the couple's rise to fame and divorce, and fairly balanced rather than siding with either Sonny or Cher. The performances are excellent, and music lovers will get a kick out of the pop music nostalgia. The DVD itself is as straightforward as the movie, with a decent image and excellent audio, and nothing in the way of extras. Cher fanatics, no doubt, are going to want to have this one placed on a shelf right beside their Cher doll.