An honorably discharged soldier returns home to New Orleans, hoping to break away from his upbringing as a trained prostitute, but his brothel-madam mother has other expectations.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Willie Metcalf ...
Janet Shea ...
Wealthy Woman
Cary Wilmot Alden ...
Acid Yellow
Graham Timbes ...
Doug Barden ...
Maitre d'


New Orleans, 1981. Sonny Phillips, just discharged from the Army, returns home where the only life he's known is as a gigolo working for his mother. He wants to leave that behind, but the job his Army buddy promised doesn't materialize, and he can't escape his past. Written by Jon Reeves <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


His life was the morning after, until he decided to change the night before.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language, some drug use and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 March 2003 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

Pony Rides  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$17,639 (USA) (27 December 2002)


$17,639 (USA) (27 December 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 2010, New York Magazine reported that while doing research for his role in Sonny (2002), 'James Franco' visited male strip clubs in New Orleans and also followed a male prostitute around, even into a hotel room while the prostitute did his job. See more »


Carol: Now I know why Mother calls you "a natural born whore."
Sonny: That's not the reason.
See more »


References Chariots of Fire (1981) See more »


Eh tout quelqu'un
Written by Bruce Barnes
Performed by Sunpie
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User Reviews

A story of love and optimism in an ugly world.
27 October 2002 | by (Charlottesville, VA) – See all my reviews

Sonny, the son of a New Orleans whore, returns home from the army determined to start a new life far away from prostitution. He finds that, even in 'live and let live' New Orleans, one's past is hard to escape.

The characters in this film are disturbing, volitile and manipulative. Other times they are sensitive, caring and fragile. Even Cage's over the top portrayal of a pimp, left me with the feeling that people such as this existed in the early 80's sex industry. The film captured excellent and emotional performances by James Franco, Brenda Blethyn, Harry Dean Stanton and Mena Suvari. Nicholas Cage, in his directorial debut, brings to life a script that fits well with his 'outside the box' body of work. The unusual sound track relied heavily on Bach and Beethoven with Devo and Wall of Voodoo mixed in.

Sonny was shown to a US audience for the first time at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. A superb Roger Ebert interview of Mr. Cage followed. During the interview, we learned that the film went into production 3 weeks after Mr.Cage decided to produce and direct the project. It was shot primarily in a French Quarter building that Mr. Cage happened upon, purchased and now does not know what to do with. Filming lasted 6 weeks. Even if you consider the fact that Nicholas Cage first read the script many years ago, intending to play the part of Sonny, it is unbelievable that this film went from 'green light' to 'in the can' in 9 weeks.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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When will Hollywood realize that we really don't sound like that? therapist-to-the-stars
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