Critic Reviews



Based on 12 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
This is a good small movie, sweet and sentimental, about a kid who never really got a chance to show his stuff. The best things in it are the most unexpected things: the portraits of everyday life, of a loving mother, of a brother who loves and resents him, of a kid growing up and tasting fame and leaving everyone standing around at his funeral shocked that his life ended just as it seemed to be beginning.
Chicago Tribune
As played by the smooth-faced, cheerful Lou Diamond Phillips, there seems to be something almost supernatural about the young man of La Bamba. He's a chosen one, and his rise to the top will be swift and smooth. If only he could shake those nightmares about a crashing plane . . . . [24 July 1987, p.A]
A film like this is quite naturally a showcase for its star, and as Valens, Lou Diamond Phillips has a sweetness and sincerity that in no way diminish the toughness of his onstage persona.
There is the music, however, great dollops of '50s songs, and it lifts the movie when the dialogue and the earnest-but-uninspired direction keeps it earthbound.
Miami Herald
Though the filmmakers have clearly done their homework, and clearly care, they don't find much remarkable in the story of Ritchie Valens. Even given the short life at hand, La Bamba is as schematic and predictable as it is likable. [24 July 1987, p.D1]
A dedicatory, sometimes sombre recreation of the career of 50s teen-throb Richie Valens, which feels like a personal project by director Luis Valdez.
La Bamba is a puzzle -- a real mixed bag. Some of it, like the braying, cock-and-bull performance by Esai Morales, is just plain awful. But other bits, like the performances by Rosana De Soto and, as Ritchie's agent, Joe Pantoliano, are unexpectedly vibrant.
An enjoyable if slightly innocuous biopic based on the brief life and short-lived fame of teen rock'n'roll idol Richie Valens.
The film is rich with period flavor, and Phillips is superb as Valens, but the rags-to-riches story (even if true) is maudlin and overfamiliar.
Tampa Bay Times
Writer-director Luis Valdez's movie is an example of just how tedious a bio-pic can be. [24 July 1987, p.3D]

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