La Bamba Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
August 2, 2011
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 :)
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2008
Lou Diamond Philips effectively portrays the late Ritchie Valens. Esai Morales is also a gem as the conflicted drunkard brother.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2009
Lou Diamond Phillips's Ritchie Valens is a classic from my chidhood! Love it!
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2009
"La Bamba" is the best biographical movie I've ever seen. It's the story of Ritchie Valens, the famous singer that sung some famous songs such as "La Bamba" and "Oh Donna." The movie tells the story of how Ritchie Valens achieved the fame as a singer and of how he dealt with it while he was doing it. It also shows how his becoming rich didn't go well with his brother and how he met the girl of his dreams, Donna. All the great songs that Ritchie Valens recorded are in this movie, and sung to perfection.
Even if you're not crazy about biographical movies, I still recommend seeing "La Bamba." It's just a great all-around movie and all the actors and actresses do a great job to make this movie a classic. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2000. Wow, this only averages 3 stars on Flixster? Crazy people! This is one of the best biographical movies ever, I've seen it several times.
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2008
LDP making his loudest statement, good film with good music.
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2007
Great story, tragic loss
Super Reviewer
½ November 21, 2006
An unpretentious but lively and spirited film with Lou Diamond Phillips excellent as the clean-cut Mexican pop idol Ritchie Valens.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2006
whats not to love about a mom yelling RIIITTTCHIEEEEEE!
Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2010
Some music biopics are about huge stars and their lives and loves. La Bamba is about Richie Valens, a rising star on the rock 'n roll scene who might have made an even bigger impact had it not been for his untimely death. As a film, writer/director Luis Valdez did a terrific job of telling the very simple story of Richie, his family, and his dreams. It's not a big splashy film like an Elvis biopic or the excellent Walk The Line. It's a film that's big in heart if not in glitz. Produced by some respected veterans of Hollywood, the movie is clean, and uncluttered by too many cliche situations. Valdez also wrote the script, and it's clear he cared about his subject.

I had the opportunity to meet and interview the Valenzuela family in the town where they still live near my own home in California. They were extremely proud of the film, and rightly so, it's a nice story, even if Valens life had some rough edges. His family was far from perfect, especially his half-brother (who later really cleaned up his act). It's slightly sanitized, but you can clearly see where the boy came from. Those are actually the best parts of the film.

Lou Diamond Phillips really put a lot into this role, and I think it's the best thing he ever did, then or since. He has a certain charisma that was right for the very young Valens. His family dynamic is also well-explored, and the supporting cast fits this story like a glove. They really draw you into the story, and although Diamond-Phillips is undoubtedly handsomer than his real-life counterpart, he acted a certain awkwardness that the family said to me was quite similar to the real Valens. There's little material to draw upon for this biopic other than remembrances of his family, his music, his friends, and a few clips to draw upon. Valens wasn't quite the big name that some of the others were in the fateful plane crash, and he lived in a time before mass media. His American Bandstand appearance survives, and is recreated in the film.

The film also does a good job at portraying the bias against a Hispanic singer, but how his musical peers, at least, were supportive. The music in the film is Valens own, rearranged some, and played with verve by Los Lobos. Additional arranging was done by Miles Goodman and Carlos Santana, and they did a fine job on this. The music is simple but captivating. It's easy to see why Valens songs are still danceable when others of his era have faded. He had a lot of real heart, and so does the movie.

It's not a long film, so if you like music, biopics or just a movie that's not over-the-top, you might like La Bamba.
Super Reviewer
October 15, 2007
*Bumping this one up to 5 stars... Actually, I'm surprised that it wasn't already 5 stars...One of my all-time sentimental favorites.*

Having grown up on this film, and relating to it because Ritchie Valens was a Mexican American growing up in Southern California, of course this movie is close to my heart. There are corny moments, and the production isn't top-notch or anything, but it's a lovely and heart-breaking true story about a talented Mexican American kid whose life ended in tragedy. Esai Morales does a great job as Bob, Ritchie's half-brother, and the scene where Bob screams "Ritchie!" on the bridge gets me every time. The soundtrack provided by Los Lobos is also rockin'. It was my favorite bio-pic all my life, until Walk the Line came they both share the crown. You gotta check it out if you haven't seen would make a great double-rental with Walk the Line or Selena.
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2007
Ritchie Valens is probably the least interesting character in the movie, the acting is atrocious all around and there are really no surprises to be found in this run-of-the-mill biopic. The music is great, though.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2008
The movie was good, on the life of Richie Valens. The only true actor that gave an outstanding performance was Esai Morales, who portrayed Richie's brother. Very dramatic and real, and the ending was emotional, I cried. :( Not to mention he sings a song called "Donna"! LOL!!! Ok, I'm a sap! :P
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2008
ok biopic of the short career of ritchie valens
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2007
Great movie!
Super Reviewer
½ January 14, 2007
Made me want to know more about Ritchie Vallens and that is what a movie like this should do. Perhaps one of the bes of these biopics.
March 26, 2015
I'm surprised with the general acclaim with this one, it doesn't even work as a standard biopic. There's just not really that much there for a guy who had a few hits and died at 19.
May 14, 2010
This definitely helped me to understand the tragedy of the historic plane crash that turned the rock and roll world on its head. Just like "Selena," you will feel as if you are watching this true story unfold for real. They were so young and even though you know what has to happen in the end, you will find yourself praying that history will rewrite itself. Lou Diamond Phillips... wow. His incredible performance will make you fall in love with the humble and all around nice guy - Ritchie Valens. You'll smile anytime that he begins to sing, feeling so happy for his success. Esai Morales is an absolutely incredible drunk and shows pure acting talent with his transformation throughout this movie. I think that he deserved a 1988 Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor - his raw emotion will make your heart pound. The music is excellent and is enhanced through the story line, like getting to know Donna so that you can understand the significance of her song. There are a few really classic scenes, like the 60 takes of recording "Come On, Let's Go" and his performance of "La Bamba." When you finally get to hear "La Bamba," it's glorious! Every single line about flying enhances the irony of this story and will prepare you for the inevitably heart-wrenching ending.
November 5, 2011
"Richie Valenzuela and his flyyyyying guitar". Watched this a million times with my brothers when we were younger and still watch it every now and then . I remember putting this on while I got dressed for school. "BOBBO?!" lol I now kinda have inside jokes about it but its still a great movie w/ an excellent soundtrack might I add. :)
August 6, 2011
LA BAMBA is an unforgettable, well-acted classic about the life and tragic death of Mexican-American Ritchie Valens.
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