After Sonny and Cher had a few hits on the pop charts, it seemed making a movie was the next logical step. 1966's Good Times does this with self-awareness in check. The duo simply play themselves, with Sonny being keen on doing a movie but Cher (whose full name is Cherilyn Sarkisian, just in case you were wondering) doesn't feel so much about it preferring to just concentrate on music. Sonny meets with big-time film producer Mordicus (George Sanders) who talks him into signing a contract to have him and Cher star in his movie- but after reviewing the script they discover it's simply awful. Mordicus then gives them ten days to come up with something better- otherwise they'll have to either do the movie with his bad script or else "never work in this town again."
Thus goes the setup for three comic sequences as Sonny conjures up movie ideas. First running into a kid playing cowboy (Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown), he thinks up a Western setting with himself as a bumbling gunslinger who keeps dropping his bullets, with Cher as a chorus girl at the local saloon. His other ideas are a Tarzan take-off and a private eye movie, each of which work in one song and otherwise run just a bit too long, as some of the sketches in their later TV show did- the advantage here is that at least you won't have to hear a laugh track along with them. George Sanders appears in all of these as a different ‘bad guy.' In between these ‘dream' sequences we get to see the two of them at their real-life home as they ponder whether commercial success is more important than making art that's true to themselves, with more songs worked in here as well. There's also plenty of self-deprecating humor between them which would become a big part of their TV show.
Your enjoyment of this movie will largely depend on your appreciation for Sonny and Cher, as they are the primary focus here with a flimsy plot that just gives them reasons to sing and joke onscreen. This is yet another one of those movies that improves with age, as the visual styles of the era are fun to look back on now, as are the pop songs which aren't too memorable but hold the movie together.
Kino's Blu-Ray looks very nice, with a clean transfer (presented in a full-screen 1.78 ratio) free of any digital tinkering that looks just like a good film print. Most of the colors are bright without being excessive, showing off the era's clothing and interior decorating styles. The mono audio, encoded in 2-channel DTS Master Audio, is a bit sub-par for a musical but this was a time when only the really ‘big' movies got stereo mixes. Quality is adequate but definitely has that optical-sound flavor to it. Subtitles are included in English only.
Director William Friedkin, this having been his first feature film, appears in an interview segment running about 20 minutes where he talks a bit about his friendship with the two stars of the movie and how they tended to compose their songs. He also mentions that the three "fantasy movie" sequences were shot first, and the rest was mainly improvised around them.
A commentary track with Lee Gambin, who considers himself a fan of Friedkin and Sonny and Cher, is very information-packed. There's hardly a second of dead space here as he talks about Good Times as well as other films of the period and the other work of the director and stars. The disc also includes trailers for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and two Elvis Presley movies: Frankie and Johnny and Clambake.
Nobody's going to mistake Good Times as a masterpiece of cinema, but it's harmless fun that's even more fun to look back on more than fifty years later. If you enjoyed their early-70s TV series (part of which was available on a great DVD set which is now out of print) then you can't go wrong here.