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I am usually too lazy to put in my review comments. But when I read some of the negative comments about this movie, I ad to make a stand. I came across this movie accidentally and I'm glad I did. I think it is one of the unsung great films on music and musicians. Based on the true life of Jerry Lee Lewis, the somewhat eccentric rock and roll genius from the 50s this movie has got soul. Most of the movies about artists end up portraying them as somewhat crazy, egomaniacs, always on the edge of a break down. But this movie has a very warm and light hearted take on Jerry's life. Throughout his ups and down his character comes out as a likable one whom you want to fall in love with. There's not a moment in the film where you would feel sad or annoyed by Jerry. And for this the kudos go to both Dennis Quaid and the director. For the reviewers who have labeled Dennis's portrayal as over the top, you guys don't have a clue who and what Jerry was. Dennis has nailed the spirited and buoyant soul that Jerry Lee Lewis was. I think the people who didn't like this film wanted to see a more serious and toned down film. But this is a film about rock and roll, and there's no better way to make it then it has been donw here. I give it a 9 out of 10. Go watch this immensely entertaining film!
From some of the reviews here, I get the feeling many viewers of this film have never seen a Jerry Lee Lewis performance, much less have ever seen him offstage. Well, I can tell you, Dennis Quaid has the man down to pitch perfect. But it isn't just a great impersonation. Beneath every nuance and gesture is the frenzied heart and mind that probably would never have been able to function outside of the venue of rock and roll. Jerry Lee was the white man's Little Richard. He had rock and roll in his blood and he was BORN outrageous! He also made Elvis Presley look like a wind-up doll. `Great Balls of Fire' captures the essence of Jerry Lee's music, especially in the musical' scene with the kids outside the high school. Rock and Roll breaks the rules, so why not have a film that breaks the rules by throwing in a musical number that obviously has no backup band? Those who have seen the high school rock and roll movies like `High School Confidential' and `Rock Rock Rock' will appreciate this spirited ode to them. Winona Ryder does a pretty good job for Winona Ryder, and it's fun to see John Doe (of the L.A. punk band `X') playing the somewhat stymied father of little Myra Gale. This film is not a biopic, it's a rock and roll movie, which is what the King of rock and roll (as far as I'm concerned) deserves. Is he a bad, bad man for marrying his thirteen-year-old cousin? Is it anyone's business? The marriage lasted longer then most marriages these days do. Even if it hadn't, I think people can be capable of respecting the artist and his music even if that artist's lifestyle offends them. That's this film's point of view, so no doubt, there will be viewers who will take offense. But to set the record straight, the whole world did not turn their back on Jerry Lee when the news got out about his marriage to his cousin. There were thousands of fans who actually embraced him more BECAUSE their parents and authorities hated him. And then there were just the fans (like myself) who will always love his music and audacious energy at the piano, and have decided to leave judgment of his personal life to whatever entity is in charge of such things.
An excellent job by director Jim McBride of putting Myra Lewis's book about
the life of legendary rock and roll star Jerry Lee Lewis (her husband) on
Dennis Quaid gives an over the top performance (sometimes a bit too over the top; but, then again, this is Jerry Lee Lewis) as Lewis, arrogant and child-like, trying to deal with sudden fame, having to deal with the consequences of having married his thirteen year old cousin (Myra, who authored the book). Quaid was truly excellent in this role. Yes, the lip-synching was perhaps a bit too obvious at times, but for the sake of hearing some great music performed by the real Jerry Lee Lewis, that was an irritant I could easily put up with. The relationship between Lewis and Myra (Winona Ryder) is developed sensitively and tastefully by McBride. Humour is added by exploring the complex love-hate relationship between Lewis and his cousin, the evangelist Jimmy Swaggart (Alec Baldwin). There is also great irony, given what ultimately happened to Swaggart, as we listen to him lecturing Lewis about the dangers of taking the "gold-paved streets of rock and roll."
I really enjoyed this movie. Perhaps it was guilty of portraying everyone in it as a bit of a caricature, but it still seemed to offer an entirely believable story of Lewis's life. Well worth the watching.
This movie defines what Jerry Lee Lewis is all about:An enigma in all sense of the word. Dennis Quaid gives his finest performance,in this reviewer's humble opinion,as the Killer himself. The hair,the clothes,the accent are strike an uncanny resemblance. Winnona Ryder is absolutely marvelous as Myra. This movie depicts Lewis's life from his first hit,"Crazy Arms",to the scandal that almost shot his career down the toliet quicker than Elvis could eat a cheeseburger. What really makes this movie go is the soundtrack,including new performances by the Killer. It has humor,tons of drama,and some really revealing glimpses into the man,the myth,the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis. I give this movie a 9 out of 10. It is with great sadness that I report that this movie is out of print and I pray to God that it will be re-released at the time of this writing. Get it if you can, because,WOOOOOOOOOOO,this movie's got the bull by the horns!!!!!!!
Being a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis since he began rockin' way back in the
1950s, this movie is a bit of a disappointment overall. The "bad"
outweighs the "good" in here, story-wise.
GOOD - The music - naturally! There is some great music in here, featuring Dennis Quaid as the entertaining rockabilly-rock-country singer who surely will go down as the one of the great entertainers of his generation. Quaid lip-syncs the songs, but that okay. They sound better with Lewis doing the singing. The movie is colorful, entertaining and fast-moving. Wynona Ryder looks really cute, too.
BAD - There is a little bit too much emphasis on Lewis' brother, Jimmy Swaggart (Alec Baldwin) and, of course, they make him look like some fanatical religious preacher. Hey, I'm not a "charismatic" follower but there was an obvious bias in here and it wasn't necessary. Also, the writers actually made Lewis look a sympathetic victim for the criticism he got marrying his 13-year-old cousin! Only in the film-making world do we see poor morals given the thumbs-up. Sorry, Jerry Lee, but marrying your 13-year-old cousin warrants a bit of criticism! I later discovered this movie was based on a book by that the same "girl," so it's no wonder it makes that relationship look "legitimate."
The ending was not appropriate, either. Most of the characters in this film were exaggerated to the degree that they all look cartoonish. This movie could have been so much better with a more objective look at Jerry Lee's life and people in it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
During World War II, young Jerry Lee is with his cousin sneaking into a
dance hall in the black section of town. His cousin says that's the
devil's music, and Jerry Lee agrees--but to him that's a good thing.
In the 1950's, Jerry Lee is performing that 'devil's music', and quite good at it. We see him go to Sam Phillips, the man who made Elvis a star. Will he be the next Elvis? He might very well be that talented. Phillips is very impressed, and his record becomes a hit.
Once Elvis goes into the army, Lewis has his chance to become as big as the King, if not bigger. What may have been his downfall, if this movie is accurate, is his marriage to his second cousin Myra. The English do not approve, and Americans aren't much more receptive.
Dennis Quaid does a great job, although it is apparently Lewis himself doing the singing. But Quaid pounds that piano and behaves wildly and shows a lot of passion and energy. I did enjoy the music, even though I usually like my music softer. It's amazing Lewis' music was banned by radio stations, because his songs get played on the station where I listen to Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Nat King Cole.
Winona Ryder is a delight, especially when Myra goes shopping after the wedding. Steve Allen looks surprisingly young playing himself, and he seems to be having a good time.
Elvis appears briefly several times, played by Michael St. Gerard, who portrayed the King in a 1990 TV bio. Elvis doesn't say much, but he does look the part. In one scene he and a girl are in bed together watching Lewis perform on TV, and the girl seems to want to do 'a whole lotta shaking'. Footage of others watching Lewis is shown (though they are probably watching something else). Included are a shocked Ward and June Cleaver.
'Patricia' by Perez Prado seems appropriate for the scene where Jerry Lee and Myra wonder whether to tell Myra's parents. The organ has the whimsical, playful quality that is such a big part of Myra's character, the trumpet section reflects Lewis' wild streak, and the trombones sound like Myra's father probably will after he gets the news.
While there were negatives in Lewis' life, this movie doesn't really make these look as bad as it could have. I found the movie entertaining as a whole.
You don't have to be an old rocker to enjoy this movie which tells the story
of the legendary rock pianist Jerry Lee Lewis.
Dennis Quaid captures the excitement, oddities and mannerisms of this rock
legend (almost an impersonation)
Quaid's performance is truly fantastic...........
The music is exciting - shaking your nerves and rattling your soul! I rate this movie 8.5 out of 10.
Personally I disagree with the other user's comments as I saw this
movie on TV a while ago and really enjoyed it. What makes it so
interesting is the fact that someone would actually go ahead and marry
their cousin who was only 13 years old.
This movie is pretty accurate and the acting and music is great.
Dennis Quaid's portrayal of the Killer is definitely one to watch.
His accent and facial expressions are priceless and Winona Ryder's Myra is sweet and believable. This movie offers a great insight into the personal life, music and career of J.L.L. A really enjoyable film I would highly recommend :-D
Great Balls of Fire! is beyond a doubt one of the best movies I have ever
seen. It's entertaining, funny, and gives an up close and personal look
the greatest rock star of the 50s. No, not Elvis, I'm talking about
Lee Lewis! Before the movie I had never even heard of him, now he is one
my all-time favorite performers. Trust me, I was 9 years old when this
movie came out, and if a movie is so good a 9 year old will pipe-down and
watch, then you know its a excellent movie. So do yourself a favor and
or buy this fantastic movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Regardless of a lot of the comments, I think this was a very good movie. I
am a teenager who has heard the name "Jerry Lee Lewis" and of course his
songs, but I was never interested in HIM. This movie intrigued me, and I'm
ready to learn more about "The Killer." In fact, I REALLY hope I can read
Myra's book sometime.
Be warned, there may be some spoilers.
The movie is pretty simple. Obviously a biography with his childhood cut
off. You find out when he met Myra, and that's pretty much where the movie
begins. You see them fall in love, and the troubles and perks after that.
You see just how devoted to Myra Jerry Lee really was. That's the kind of
love girls DREAM about!
John Doe, Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder, they were all great in the film. The
only problem, would be the writing. They leave so much out! How EXACTLY
are Jerry Lee and Myra related? I mean, I had to go to the International
Jerry Lee Lewis website to find out! But heck, the two were in love. That
was obvious in the film.
Another thing, was the end. It left me wanting more! I wanted to find out
more about the couple, more about everything.
Overall, I'd say if you're open minded and willing for a few laughs, this is
a great movie. ESPECIALLY if you like a great romance.
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