Top 5 Most Basic Music Biopics
Music and television fans alike were enraged with the release of Lifetime’s latest biopic Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. Made against the wishes of the late singer’s family and without the rights to any of her original songs, it seems safe to say that the film will not be seen by future generations outside of the most die-hard corner of Aaliyah’s fanbase. But this piece of filmmaking is but one of countless examples of music biopics that lost their footing somewhere along the way, leaving us with an end result that is questionable to say the least. So without further ado, here are our picks for the Top 5 Most Underwhelming Music Biopics. Warning: watch with caution.
5. The Runaways: In real life, The Runaways were a pretty rad band. With the always on point badassery of Joan Jett mixed with the good girl gone bad appeal of Cherie Currie, surely a film adaptation couldn’t fail to express how awesome these girls were? Wrong, and not pointing fingers but perhaps the lip chewing aesthetic of Kristen Stewart was not the best match for someone as raw as Jett, though Dakota Fanning didn’t too badly as Currie. The whole film, though it set out with noble intentions, turned out to be an exercise in banality. It makes for better background noise during a nap than a faithful biopic.
4. Ring of Fire: Lifetime strikes again! Released just last year, Ring of Fire tells the tumultuous tale of the courtship and working relationship of country icon Johnny Cash with his wife, June Carter. Wait a minute, this sounds familiar. Oh right, because they already made an Academy Award winning movie about the EXACT SAME THING in 2005 with Walk the Line. No judgements Lifetime, but maybe make a movie about something that hasn’t been made yet? That said, this film is worthy of a look if only to prove that 90’s princess Jewel is still alive and making music (kind of).
3. Beyond the Sea: Let’s get this on record: Kevin Spacey is a god among men. But even gods must make mistakes as evidenced by this unsettling biopic about 50’s crooner Bobby Darin. The movie was a labor of love for Spacey, who fought to get this film made for over a decade, but that inevitably posed some problems. For example, by the time the movie was finally made, 45 year old Spacey was playing a Bobby Darin aged 22. Yikes. Though it shouldn’t have affected the film that much, it really did, making for all kinds of awkward scenes with his co-stars.
2. The Doors: We can sum up every single one of the problems with this movie in a single word: EGO. Oliver Stone was in high demand in the early 90’s, giving him complete creative control over the sprawling epic that depicted the life and times of the ill-fated 60’s band. The film is bland for sure, but the fault lies not completely with Stone but with star Val Kilmer portraying iconic Jim Morrison. Playing Morrison with all the passion of the floppy wig that’s placed on his head, Kilmer sucks the life out of what could have been an interesting biopic. Instead, we’re left with a movie that makes us wonder why the Doors were ever famous in the first place and why did we need to see Val Kilmer’s bare ass that close up?
1. Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story: Produced by VH1 in 2004, well before some of the controversies that would tarnish the legend’s reputation, this piece of filmmaking is not so much a film as it is an 86 minute joke that does not require a punchline. Instead of highlighting the intrigue of the singer’s life as a child star and his meteoric rise to fame, there are scenes that depict Michael crying while watching footage of the World Trade Center being destroyed and wondering whether this is Judgment Day. Because that’s what people want to see when they see a movie about MJ, his moments in the living room crying and not his triumphs and talent as a performer. Watch this one with some friends and wine. Lots of wine.