[Screen It]
    

 

"WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE"
(1998) (Halle Berry, Larenz Tate) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy Mild Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate Mild Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Three women, who all claim to be the widow of 1950's doowop sensation Frankie Lymon, recount their lives with the volatile singer.
PLOT:
When Elizabeth Waters (VIVICA A. FOX) hears a remake of an old 1950's doowop song while serving time in prison, she immediately contacts a lawyer. Stating that she's the widow of the song's writer and singer, Frankie Lymon (LARENZ TATE), she believes herself to be entitled to the royalties from the song that are now being collected by his former manager and record producer, Morris Levy (PAUL MAZURSKY).

After being released from prison in the mid-1980's, she heads to her lawyer's office to pick up her check when she gets the bad news that her case is under investigation. It seems that two other women, Zola Taylor (HALLE BERRY), a former singer with the group, The Platters, and Emira Eagle (LELA ROCHON), a demure Southern schoolteacher, also claim to have been married to the singer who died in 1968.

As a court case gets under way to determine the identity of the legal widow and what royalties she's entitled to, we see flashbacks to the heyday of doowop rock n' roll when Frankie was a big star. With each woman giving their own account and version of their days spent with him and eventually becoming his bride, the singer's glory days and subsequent problems with drugs, depression and simultaneous marriages to the three women are highlighted.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably not, unless they're big fans of someone in the cast or of the doowop era.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • HALLE BERRY plays a fellow singer who married Lymon and, depending on whose version of the story is being told, cussed a lot or only a little, and also smokes.
  • VIVICA A. FOX plays a petty shoplifter who marries Lymon and tries to care for him during his turbulent period.
  • LELA ROCHON plays a demure, Southern schoolteacher who also marries Lymon.
  • LARENZ TATE plays the teen idol who turns to drugs when his career begins to falter and who was simultaneously married to three women.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
    Having cut his musical biography teeth on the big screen story detailing the life and death of Latino superstar Selena, director Gregory Nava continues in that vein by focusing on the life and similarly untimely death of Frankie Lymon. While moderately entertaining simply for the music and nostalgic look back to the heyday of doowop, the film often feels very disjointed, haphazard, and occasionally suffers from overacting from its attractive and talented cast.

    For those wondering exactly who Lymon was, he fronted the popular 1950's doowop group, The Teenagers, and lent his falsetto-like voice to hits such as "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" and "Goody Goody." A victim of his own success and greedy promoters/managers, Lymon's life was destroyed by a combination of heavy drug use and rock n' roll's transition away from the doowop sound.

    Interestingly, Nava -- who also helmed "Mi Familia" -- has chosen to detail yet another talented performer who perished while still quite young. Unlike Selena who was slain on her way up the ladder of success, however, Lymon was well on his way down and such disappointment and tragedy can often set the stage for some good drama.

    Yet where "Selena" took a chronological look at that young singer's life (and featured a great performance from Jennifer Lopez), this film takes a different approach by seeing Lymon's life through the eyes of three different and very distinct women he married during a short span of several years.

    While that's an intriguing way to explore a true event, Nava and first time screenwriter Tina Andrews have crafted a story that too often suffers from haphazard pacing and construction. The "present day" courtroom scenes (actually set in the 1980's) have little congruity and serve mainly as a way to show the three women some twenty years later, and as a springboard to introduce the individual flashback scenes. Instead of retelling the same story from three vantage points -- which would seem to be the obvious route -- the story simply allows the women to see that Lymon wasn't the same man with, or to, all three.

    While some of those moments set back in the 1950's and 60's are often very well done and individually entertaining and charming, they don't exactly make for a well executed or narratively strong story. Even so, one can't but help enjoy the early concert scenes and the toe-tapping rhythms of the original recordings (to which Tate and others lip synch) from that earlier, more innocent era of rock n' roll.

    The performances are okay for the most part, and the attractive cast certainly makes the film easy on the eye. Nonetheless, some momentary, but quite serious overacting too obviously stands out and detracts from the overall experience.

    Having to play two separate ages spanning twenty plus years, Halle Berry ("Bulworth," "B.A.P.S."), Vivica A. Fox ("Independence Day," "Soul Food"), and Lela Rochon ("Waiting to Exhale," "The Big Hit") are decent enough and mostly enjoyable, but never quite seem sure whether to play their roles seriously or for camp. Whenever they get into the "cat fight" scenario and then later bond into some variation of the first wives club (here it would be the "simultaneous wives club"), however, all seriousness is immediately thrown out the window.

    Larenz Tate ("The Postman," "Love Jones") doesn't have that same problem and is appropriately bubbly and energetic in his on-stage recreations. Even so, he isn't given sufficient material away from the numbers to allow us inside his character -- beyond the obvious superficial qualities commonly displayed in fallen idols -- to really know what made Lymon tick and ultimately self- destruct.

    That constitutes what's probably the film's biggest problem. Not really a true biographical piece, and lacking any compelling mystery or enough campy qualities to make it fun and interesting, the film too often changes direction and subsequently never feels like a cohesive piece.

    Bits of it are entertaining, and Nava easily captures the lighthearted spirit of the doowop years, but overall the film feels like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are all there, but they haven't been assembled to make a smooth or pretty picture. Therefore, we give "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" just a 4 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Profanity is extreme with more than 30 "f" words and an assortment of others heard during the film. Several sexual encounters are observed, and while some movement and a little nudity are seen, the moments are brief. Smoking and drinking also occur, and while we see the results of Lymon's drug abuse, little use is actually seen.

    Bad attitudes abound throughout the film, from Lymon being simultaneoulsy married to three women, them plotting against and bickering with each other, and a record producer taking the money and running, among others. Although it's questionable just how many kids will want to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at the content should someone in your home wish to.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • We see a brief glimpse of Frankie's dad with a pint of liquor.
  • People playing poker have drinks.
  • Frankie and Zola have champagne.
  • People have drinks in a club.
  • Frankie becomes a drug addict (heroin), and we see the track marks on his arms. During a concert, he collapses on stage because of this.
  • We see Frankie passed out on the floor with a bottle of liquor next to him.
  • Zola and Elizabeth state that the three women should go and have a drink. When Emira states that she doesn't drink, one of the women states that it's time she started. We then later see the three having drinks, including Emira who quickly downs her Long Island Iced Tea.
  • Frankie collapses to the floor after shooting up heroin (and eventually dies from an overdose).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Although neither bloody nor gory, a comment is made that Levy "didn't even use any Vaseline" in his business dealings with Frankie.
  • Frankie's mouth is bloody after some drug dealers beat him.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Frankie has both for marrying other women before divorcing others, and has both while under the influence of drugs.
  • Frankie has both for disregarding his other band-mates and signing a deal with only his best interests in mind.
  • The three women have both toward each other, and try to undermine the others to win the court case.
  • Levy -- the band and Frankie's manager -- has both for negotiating a contract that gave him nearly all the royalty rights.
  • Elizabeth's in jail for shoplifting and in one scene we see her trying to shoplift some items.
  • Elizabeth comments that the bible says that a wife should do anything to save her husband, so we then see her out on the street prostituting herself (but don't see any sexual activity).
  • Mad at Elizabeth, Frankie holds her dog by the scruff of the neck and holds it out the window (mockingly threatening to drop it). The dog then bites him on the hand, he lets go, and the dog falls to its death (assumed and not seen).
  • Zola returns to her home (after being gone several months) to find that Frankie has completely trashed the place.
  • We learn that Frankie has been A.W.O.L. from the army for several months.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Some drug dealers chase Frankie into his apartment -- breaking down the door -- and proceed to beat him up (many punches and kicks) for money he owes them. One then briefly holds a knife to his neck.
  • Mad at Elizabeth, Frankie holds her dog by the scruff of the neck and holds it out the window (mockingly threatening to drop it). The dog then bites him on the hand, he lets go, and the dog falls to its death (assumed and not seen).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Briefly held to Frankie's throat by a drug dealer.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Chickensh*t," "Bitch" "Broke ass," "Cheap ass," "Screw that," "Shut up," "Piss off," "Kiss my ass," "Snot nosed" and "Geez."
  • We see Elizabeth shoplifting.
  • Emira belches after having her first drink.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 31 "f" words (5 used with "mother"), 32 "s" words, 1 possible slang term for breasts (the "t" word), 19 asses (1 used with "hole"), 9 damns, 5 hells, and 4 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Oh my God," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "Oh Lord," "Oh God" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A comment is made about "dropping like a whore's panties..."
  • Zola shows some cleavage.
  • Frankie kisses down into Zola's cleavage and then undoes her dress (we see her in her bra) and then undoes her bra. They kiss and his shirt is then off, and while we don't see anything else, it's implied that they have sex.
  • Viewed through a rain-covered window from the outside (meaning a diffused view and no sound), we see Frankie and Elizabeth having sex. We briefly see her bare breasts and some movement as she sits on his lap.
  • Elizabeth comments that the bible says that a wife should do anything to save her husband, so we then see her out on the street prostituting herself (but don't see any activity, although she does tell a vice cop, "I'll lick you like a lollipop").
  • Elizabeth shows some cleavage in a bathing suit.
  • We see images of Frankie and Zola having sex, including some movement, a glimpse of the side of her breast, and we hear some sexual sounds.
  • We see Emira in some lingerie.
  • While talking with the other women about Frankie's charm, Zola says, "He could (sing?) me right out of my panties."
  • SMOKING
  • Zola smokes quite often throughout the film, while Elizabeth also smokes.
  • Many other minor or background characters also smoke throughout the movie.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Frankie makes a comment about his dad leaving eight months earlier (after being a drunk and beating on the family).
  • Frankie's problems through the years create more problems/tension with his wives, and all must somewhat deal with his death.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of the story.
  • The pitfalls of success and falling from stardom.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Frankie and the band's original singer get into a fight where some punches are thrown and the two then struggle.
  • The original singer breaks a record.
  • Drugged up, Frankie knocks over and breaks items in his and Elizabeth's room.
  • Some drug dealers chase Frankie into his apartment, break down the door, and proceed to beat him up (many punches and kicks) for money he owes them. One then briefly holds a knife to his neck.
  • Mad at Elizabeth, Frankie holds her dog by the scruff of the neck and holds it out the window (mockingly threatening to drop it). The dog then bites him on the hand, he lets go, and the dog falls to its death (assumed and not seen).
  • Zola returns to her home (after being gone several months) to find that Frankie has completely trashed the place.
  • Frankie punches a mirror.



  • Reviewed August 20, 1998

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2014 Screen It, Inc.