La Bamba

Director: Luis Valdez
Year Released: 1987
Rating: 2.0

Here's a look at the exceptionally brief (but influential) life of Mexican-American Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips), starting with his growing up in Northern California and working as a farmworker, moving to Southern California, attending high school, falling in love with W.A.S.P.-y Donna (Danielle von Zerneck), joining a band (The Silhouettes), getting "discovered" by Bob Keane (Joe Pantoliano), becoming famous and then, along with fellow talents Buddy Holly (Marshall Crenshaw) and The Big Bopper (Stephen Lee), dying in a plane crash in Grant Township, Iowa.  Phillips, in a career-making role, portrays Valens as a kind and considerate music obsessive (he literally can't go anywhere without his guitar) but unfortunately this biopic comes across as a tedious soap opera (punctuated by "foreboding" nightmares) that, when it really needs "tension," has his half-brother Bob (Esai Morales) appear in order to raise all sorts of trouble (in one grotesque scene, he sexually assaults his own wife).  What's amazing about Valens is how he somehow managed to become "immortal" - he's been posthumously inducted into multiple Halls of Fame - despite passing away before he could legally drink alcohol or vote.  So remember kids: always drive your Chevy to the levee while drinkin' whiskey and rye....