La Bamba (1987)
Lou Diamond Phillips plays legendary 1950s rocker Ritchie Valens (born Ricardo Valenzuela), in this musical biography. Before scoring radio and concert success with hits like "La Bamba", "C'mon Let's Go", and "Donna", Valens was a 15-year-old migrant worker who worked with his mother Connie (Rosana De Soto). Valens' half-brother Bob Morales (Esai Morales) is a vitriolic ex-con who roars into the migrant camp on his Harley after his release from jail. Valens' musical talents are encouraged by his family -- though later various members of his family react to his fame with varying degrees of pride and envy -- and he soon earns an audition with legendary record producer and former Artie Shaw clarinet player Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano). Valens soon appears in an Alan Freed rock n' roll teen exploitation film, lip-synching his blistering recorded version of "Ooh, My Head". When a romance with Donna Ludwig (Danielle von Zerneck) is forbidden by her conservative father, Valens pens the famous ballad that bears her name. Tours follow his chart success until the fatal plane crash that claimed the lives of Valens, The Big Bopper (aka J.P. Richardson), and Buddy Holly on February 3rd, 1959. The supporting cast is excellent with power-pop icon Marshall Crenshaw playing Buddy Holly singing "Crying, Waiting, Hoping". Brian Setzer accurately portrays rocker Eddie Cochran, and Howard Hunstberry plays Jackie Wilson and sings "Lonely Teardrops". Additional music is provided by Los Lobos, a band who traces their musical roots directly to Valens and other Mexican influences. Also making cameo appearances are the real-life Mrs. Connie Valenzuela and Bob Morales. Although not 100% historically accurate, La Bamba is much more accurate than 1978s The Buddy Holly Story. The feature turned a new generation on to the influential Tex-Mex rock that was an inspiration to such later rockers as The Bobby Fuller Four as well as Los Lobos. … More
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Critic Reviews for La Bamba
An enjoyable if slightly innocuous biopic based on the brief life and short-lived fame of teen rock'n'roll idol Richie Valens
La Bamba is engrossing throughout and boasts numerous fine performances.
As Valens, Lou Diamond Phillips has a sweetness and sincerity that in no way diminish the toughness of his onstage persona. The role is blandly written, but Mr. Phillips gives Valens backbone.
Basically, it's a load of corn -- an up-from-the-basement account of a pop comet -- but the movie has an energetic, almost naive spirit.
This is a sincere, well-acted movie about the short life of a minor rock 'n' roll star, and by the time it's over we almost have the feeling Valens would have been surprised not to have died in a crash.
Predictably, there isn't a Ritchie blemish in sight. But the circumstances of Valens' life seem to beg this golden portrait.
solid, entertaining biopic
Fairly well put together film about the hispanic king of rock'n roll.
Perhaps otherwise destined to be remembered as a talented footnote in musical history, Richie Valens is immortalized for the masses in this well-conceived and involving movie.
A musical extravaganza. Powerful, and superbly performed.
Audience Reviews for La Bamba
A refreshing biopic about a short-lived star that met a tragic death (and also ironic, considering his fear of flying and how his fate was decided by the flip of a coin), and it is so involving that it offers a heartbreaking conclusion even if we know from the get-go how it all ends.More
Siblings and I loved this movie when we were kids... I distinctly remember us rocking around the room playing air guitar and belting out his songs :)More
Lou Diamond Philips effectively portrays the late Ritchie Valens. Esai Morales is also a gem as the conflicted drunkard brother.More
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