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USA 1983
Directed by
Martin Davidson
92 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Eddie And The Cruisers

Eddie And The Cruisers is one of those movies that are so wrong they almost have a perverse appeal. Almost.
The film tells in flashback the story of Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) a legendary tortured musical genius whose Chevy crashed off a bridge back in 1963. The day after Eddie died the tapes of an album he and The Cruisers had recorded disappears never to have been seen since. Now it’s the early 80s and Ellen Burstyn plays a journalist of some kind who’s putting together a TV special on Eddie. Tom Berenger, now a high school teacher, is the former keyboard player and lyricist (he’s referred to as “Word Man” in recognition of his prowess in this department) for the band who gets caught up in the mystery and so we track down the band members today including the desperate band manager.
Burstyn and Berenger may not be the greatest actors but watching them discuss with complete seriousness, nay reverence, the Rimbaud-influenced album “Season In Hell” you’ve got to hand it to them: they earned their money. Written by Martin and Arlene Davidson, the script for this film is so hackneyed it defies comprehension, whilst the direction by the former does it complete justice, making the film something like Brian De Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) but without the camp…or the music.

The music. You’d think that they would have got this right however aside from the ham-fisted telling of the story.the other main problem that besets this film is the music. On the one hand Eddie And The Cruisers are supposed to be a bad-ass rock n’roll band from Jersey (the scene when they meet Berenger’s Frank is eye-poppingly bad) whereas, with the exception of Eddie, they look and sound like a bunch of doo-wopping dorks (were there any bad-ass rock n’roll bands in America in 1963?). On the other, the supposedly brilliant music sounds uncannily like Bruce Springsteen’s (a fact that seems acknowledged by the scene i  which Eddie sings with the word “Spring” in large letters behind him). Now how this could have been is one thing – what it has to do with Arthur Rimbaud or existential genius is another. The answer to neither question is apparent.

BTW: For die-hards, there was a 1989 sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives directed by Jean-Claude Lord. Michael Paré who has had a solid if unremarkable career in film and television appeared as the adult Tripp Fontaine in Sofia Coppola’s debut film, The Virgin Suicides (1999).




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