"Fools Rush In"
Peppered with great musical numbers, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE? is an entertaining, provocative movie. Regrettably, its raucous story of the legal battle between the three wives of famous rock and roll singer Frankie Lyman has a lot of foul language and has an immoral attitude about sex and marriage. That worldview is mitigated by the movie's strong biblical theme about the tragic consequences of sin and greed.
“Fools despise wisdom and discipline,” Solomon declares in the Book of Proverbs. “The years of the wicked are cut short.” These words may be a fitting epitaph for the main characters in the new Warner Bros. musical, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE?
Peppered with wonderful musical numbers, WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE? may be the most entertaining, most provocative movie released this year. It is certainly the best musical about rock and roll since THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY. Regrettably, however, its raucous story also contains a lot of foul language in it and an immoral attitude about sex and marriage. That worldview is mitigated by the movie’s theme about the tragic consequences of sin and greed.
Writer Tina Andrews and director Gregory Nava develop those consequences against the backdrop of a legal battle between the three wives of the famous rock and roll star of the Fifties, Frankie Lyman, who wrote the title song of the movie. Lyman died from a heroin overdose in 1968. In the movie, the three wives sue for the royalties of Lyman’s songs, nearly 20 years after his death. Like an African-American version of CITIZEN KANE, the three wives face the judge to tell the story of Lyman’s career and their up-and-down relationships with the singing sensation.
Using brief flashbacks from the start of Lyman’s career as a child singer of Gospel music in his church, the movie takes many twists and turns. Its plot moves effortlessly from the comedy and satire of the legal battle (which features a hilarious turn by rock star Little Richard playing himself), to the energy and wildness of the early rock scene, then onward to the quiet moments of romance and promise and the harrowing drama that were the elements of Lyman’s tragic life and death.
An ironic ending completes the movie’s journey through the Fifties, Sixties and Eighties. Sin and greed debase one and all, and Little Richard returns to deliver the final coda in a multifaceted symphony.
Larenz Tate gives an absolutely knockout performance as Lyman. The movie lets the audience climb into this character’s soul. The audience sees his demons, his dreams, his regrets, his sins, his passions, and the beauty and joy of his divine gift of song, a gift from God that he tragically misuses and abuses. The female leads in the movie – Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox and Lela Rochon – also give excellent performances, but it is Vivica A. Fox who shines the best among them, especially when she plays her character 20 years later. Fox is simply a fabulous hoot in this movie, especially during a scene when she confronts Halle Berry during a court recess for lunch. The only phony note in these performances is the fact that the actors are too good-looking and too nicely made up for the roles they play.
Despite the movie’s often breezy, comic style (and a few politically correct moments), WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE? shows that bad things happen when a young Christian Gospel singer lets worldly desires and ambitions control his God-given talents. In doing that, it displays a strong biblical worldview about the consequences of sin and greed. Those consequences also affect the lives of the women in the movie’s ironic ending. So much so, that the movie could be appropriately subtitled “The Corruption of Black American Culture.” Only the movie’s strong foul language (more than 100 obscenities and profanities), its lack of reference to the power, glory and righteousness of God, and its politically correct, pagan acceptance of sexual immorality take away from this important lesson. Still, this movie is so well done that critics may eventually hail it as an American film classic. It also could be a major Oscar contender next year.
(BB, PaPa, LLL, VV, SS, N, AA, DD, PC, C, M) Biblical worldview about the consequences of sin & greed mixed with a pagan worldview about premarital sex; 101 obscenities, 8 profanities, several vulgarities, & one outright blasphemy; drug dealers beat up junkie & bloody his face, women fight by pool, man threatens small dog who falls to its death, & scuffles with woman over money; implied premarital sex & adultery, depicted marital sex through blurred window, man undresses woman's torso prior to implied sex, & man & women in sexual embrace; implied nudity during bed scenes; alcohol use & implied alcohol abuse; smoking & implied heroin use; political correctness alleging white people completely stole rock & roll music from black people when rhythm & blues music in reality also includes European & rural American musical roots; incidental scenes of Christians in church & Gospel music roots of singers; and, lying, stealing & bigamy.