Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Goodness Gracious!

I stayed up late last night to watch Great Balls Of Fire!, a biopic about the rise and fall of Rock and Roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis. I stumbled across it while channel surfing and after the first 15 minutes could not stop watching. A major part of the movie covers Jerry Lee's relationship with his thirteen-year-old cousin Myra Brown. Dennis Quaid plays Jerry Lee and Winona Ryder plays his cousin Myra.

Now, I love biopics about musicians, some of my favorites are; Gary Busey as Buddy Holly in The Buddy Holly Story, Jessica Lange as Pasty Cline in Sweet Dreams, Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens in La Bamba, Sissy Spacek as Lorreta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, George Hamilton as Hank Williams in Your Cheatin' Heart, and Kurt Russell as Elvis in a movie simply called Elvis. (Hey, when you make a movie about the King all you need his name.)

My all time favorite is American Hot Wax, a biopic about Alan Freed the man who first used the term "Rock and Roll" to describe the new type of rhythm and blues music being played and sung by white performer in the 1950's.

But Great Balls Of Fire! is strange. First of all it's creepy. This is the story of a pedophile who also happened to be a early Rock and Roll star. When Jerry Lee married his thirteen-year-old cousin he was twenty-two. Dennis Quaid was almost 35 when he made this movie and he looks it. Winona Ryder was seventeen and looks young enough to be thirteen. Let me tell you their loves scenes were pretty uncomfortable to watch.

Second, the movie has a weird cartoon quality to it. The only person in it who acts like a real person is the Winona Ryder character. It's like the whole thing is really a nightmare being dreamed by thirteen-year-old Myra.

The final bizarreness is Dennis Quaid's interpretation of his character. At first I thought he was doing a really over the top impersonation of Jerry Lee but then I realized what he was actually doing was an impersonation of Daffy Duck playing Jerry Lee Lewis. Which, when you think about it, was a wise choice as it fits in with the cartoon quality of the movie very well.

As with all musical biopics the best part of the movie is the music. Jerry Lee Lewis himself sings all the songs and you get to hear some of his greatest; Great Balls Of Fire, Wild One, I'm On Fire, and Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On.

No comments: