Great Balls of Fire (1989)

Wow, Jerry Lee Lewis is a creep.

This rockin’ biopic depicts the meteoric rise of rock and roll’s most daring living legend, Jerry Lee Lewis (Dennis Quaid). Concentrating on the years from 1956 to 1959, the film features the songs and escapades that catapulted Lewis to the top of the charts, as well as his controversial third marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Myra (Winona Ryder), which almost destroyed his career.

Much like all rock biopics, the artists eventual rise-and-fall is documented in such a soap opera way. Look at La Bamba or The Doors, you will see these stories eventually all end up the same.

The film is one of the more exciting rock biopics. It shows the fun side of rock-and-roll rather than it’s disadvantages. Much of the energy comes from it’s great upbeat soundtrack as all the songs were re-recorded by Jerry Lee himself, and add a great deal of excitement to this film. The editing that goes a long with the music, that influences many other films today, it shows the story developing as the music continues so it doesn’t become boring.

The only problem with the film was that I didn’t quite get inside of the person of Jerry Lee Lewis, instead I got the artist who the public could always see, not the man behind the scenes. Jerry Lee’s life had a lot more problems than just a little short period of time. His life was battled with a lot more violence, sex, drugs, and drinking than this film showed me, and I didn’t quite get to know Jerry Lee as well as I thought I could.

I think the story really does run out of steam by the end. When the film goes to his marriage between him and his cousin, the film has no where to go and comes up with a really dumb ending, which was trying to stay upbeat with the whole film itself but didn’t seem like it meant anything to the whole film.

Dennis Quaid really does shine here as Jerry Lee. He is cocky, but also very energetic and brings a lot to the table, and gives the look at Jerry Lee, and becomes a lot more convincing than I thought he was, but it surely is an understated performance.

Consensus: Jerry Lee Lewis’ life had a lot more than this film gave us, but it is highly energetic and features a great understated performance from Dennis Quiad.


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