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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Top 10 Worst Music Biopics

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 8:23 AM


A couple of weeks ago, you may recall we did a list of the Top Ten Music Biopics. The biopic debate raged again today, however, after we saw images of Andre 3000 dressed up as Jimi Hendrix, in the midst of making a movie. We're pretty sure Andre is going to do wonders in the role, but that doesn't mean the music biopic is always a good idea. Here, then, are the 10 worst music biopics we know of.

10. The Runaways

Okay, look. We enjoyed this movie. We did. And Kristen Stewart was so jaw-droppingly incredible as Joan Jett, we almost forgave her for the Twilight franchise (we said "almost"). The problem here is that we rushed to the movies to see this, expecting all of the band members to be documented, only to find this was a film about Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, and nobody else. Lita Ford barely gets a name check, and Sandy West is mostly invisible. And that just makes us mad. We found out later that there were legal issues involved, but it still feels like half a movie to us.

9. La Bamba

If you were a child when this came out, you probably remember it as being amay-zing. But it's amazing only in the way that Dirty Dancing was amazing: all the characters in it are reduced to ultra-simplified versions of real humans for the sake of convenience. Also, it is largely implied here that Ritchie Valens died tragically at the age of 17, in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, because his brother broke his necklace. We're not kidding. Watch it again if you don't believe us. The soundtrack is, of course, great, but the movie's kind of ridiculous.

8. Great Balls of Fire

Speaking of overly simplistic: while Great Balls Of Fire was immensely watchable, it forever turned Jerry Lee Lewis into a petulant and selfish overblown man-child, with a sexual fondness for children whom he also happened to be related to. On the one hand, we're irritated that Lewis was turned into such a hideous caricature here. On the other, it makes our blood boil every time we see the end of the end of this thing -- the final shot is of Lewis and his young wife (the cousin), smiling over the birth of their first child. The implication is that they lived happily ever after -- in fact, Lewis was married a further four times. Le sigh.

7. I'm Not There

Aw, crap. We wanted to like it. We did. The concept -- getting six different actors, including a woman and child, to play Bob Dylan -- was really interesting. As the trailer states: Bob Dylan is "everyone" and "no one" and I'm Not There's concept explored that in a really unique and innovative way. Unfortunately, this thing dragged on interminably, failed almost entirely to gain our full attention for any great portion of time, and left us feeling bloated with the artistry of it all. Having said that, if someone wants to make a Bob Dylan movie where he's played only by Cate Blanchett, we'll totally watch it (she's amazing here).

6. Take Me Home: The John Denver Story

After watching this, we were left with the distinct impression that Chad Lowe doesn't actually know who John Denver is -- and that, frankly, he probably doesn't care. "As long as I keep this wig on, look wistfully at mountains and act a bit like a simpleton, that'll work, right?" No, Chad. Just.... no.

5. The Rat Pack

Remarkably, this HBO production didn't get terrible reviews across the board -- probably because the guys playing Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. did pretty convincing jobs. But Ray Liotta was a surprisingly bland Frank Sinatra (he's more like Henry Hill from Goodfellas most of the time) and some of the dialogue in this was head-shakingly awful. Like in the above clip, where the phrase "Greatest ass in the history of the world, just laid out for him on a plate... like a deli spread..." is uttered with such whispered gravitas, it's hard not to laugh for 10 minutes. Truly awful.
4. The Beach Boys: An American Family

We have a confession to make. We didn't actually watch this entire TV movie... But we have a really good reason, so don't judge us yet. The thing that made us switch off was the portrayal of Brian Wilson. His mental problems are already well-documented everywhere, sure, but this thing portrays him as a bumbling psycho who unjustly takes all of the credit for the Beach Boys classics, when he wasn't actually doing the work. We got pissed off and gave up. If you can get to the end of this thing, you kind of deserve a medal.

3. Madonna: Innocence Lost

Let's not sugarcoat it: Madonna: Innocence Lost is an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. This thing is awash with wooden acting, but the thing that really kills it is the fact that -- rather than finding someone with actual charisma and presence and fire to play Madonna -- they just stuck some lady who kind of looked like her in the role and left her to it. The above clip, where Madonna's iconic and ridiculously hot performance of "Like A Virgin" at the VMAs is reduced to stiff dance moves and some pointing, isn't even the worst of this movie. Atrocious.

2. Lady Sings The Blues

Ya know who doesn't look or sound anything like Billie Holiday? And who doesn't have the acting chops to do an accurate imitation? Diana Ross. But hey, when they were casting this thing, some genius concluded -- probably based merely on the fact that she's black, female, and a singer (they're all the same, you know) -- that she'd be just fine in this role. What you're left with is Diana Ross with a bunch of flowers in her hair, singing like Diana Ross, but pretending to be a drug addict. Billie Holiday deserves so much more than this.

1. Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story

Now, chances are, if you're sitting down to a watch a Monkees biopic, you'll be wanting the opposite of their public persona. You'll be wanting to know the dirt, the strains, the difficulties involved with being in a manufactured band who wanted credibility without giving up their success. You'll want to see the inner struggles between the obedient Davy Jones and the rest of the band who wanted to break free from their slapsticky boyband persona and write their own music. So, what does Daydream Believers give us? Benny Hill and a sound effects backing track. According to this, The Monkees lived every day like it was their TV show. So lots of high speed chases around small rooms then. Thanks for that.   

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