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1 review, 26 user ratings

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La Bamba
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by Scott Weinberg

"A biopic that deftly avoids the usual tiresome gimmicks."
4 stars

One of the better biopics of the past few decades, Luis Valdez' "La Bamba" does a glowing service to its inspiration. Perhaps otherwise destined to be remembered as a talented footnote in musical history, Richie Valens is immortalized for the masses in this well-conceived and involving movie.

Writer-director Valdez deserves most of the praise, as his film is a colorful and straightforward one, and one that doesn't deify or demonize its subject. Sure, the flick may not be a literal translation of what happened in Valens' young life, but at least the film has an earnest respect for the young singer who died way too soon.

After Valdez, it's the two leading men who deserve some applause; Lou Diamond Phillips delivers a star-making turn as Ritchie, while strong character actor Esai Morales smolders the screen whenever he pops up. (How Morales was not nominated for an Oscar here just boggles my mind.) The always-cool Joe Pantoliano capably adds some background he's been doing for years and years.

With a solid sense for period and a collection of fantastic old tunes (including the wonderful title track), La Bamba is a great litle movie, and it's certainly not one meant solely for fans of the ill-fated performer. For a worthwhile trip back in time, or as a revisit with a rocker who died too soon, La Bamba is absolutely worthy of your 108 minutes.

DVD Details: Widescreen format, Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo, full-length audio commentary with producer Taylor Hackford and writer/director Daniel Valdez, Los Lobos' "La Bamba" music video, Howard Huntsberry's "Lonely Teardrops" music video, "Remembering Ritchie" featurette, and some theatrical trailers.

Nothing revolutionary, but a biopic this engaging and entertaining is surely worthy of honest praise.

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originally posted: 01/08/03 14:18:44
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User Comments

10/07/15 david froman lou diamond phillips at his best 4 stars
1/21/10 Savannah BEST MOVIE EVER!! Things were never the same the day the music died.... 5 stars
10/12/09 rebecca hilfer I was a great loss but a wonderful story 5 stars
5/28/09 Jeff Wilder Well made. Not quite on the level of The Buddy Holly Story. But good overall. 4 stars
3/31/08 Soggy-bottom boy Great cover songs, excellent cast/acting, superb directing. A must see. 5 stars
10/28/07 Gmoni The film is wonderful 5 stars
8/22/07 Alena I grew up watching this movie ever!!! love it, makes me cry everytime... 5 stars
2/04/07 Kyle Viveros Inspirational music never to forget true story. 5 stars
10/24/06 Angie This was a movie no one will forget. 5 stars
6/07/06 Eden DeClase it is one of the greatest most inspirational films i have ever seen 5 stars
1/30/06 HypHyop This movie fucking rocked, Entertaining to the maximum 5 stars
8/21/05 Eve Brown Brilliant 5 stars
5/13/05 Hitomi Hiriyukii excellent acting, excellent music...this film does Ritchie justice... 5 stars
5/11/05 Sara Rodriguez I grew up watching this movie with my family and it is one of the best movies in my opinion 5 stars
1/15/05 Jeff Anderson The greatest biopic film since THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY. Great acting by all and directing. 5 stars
6/28/04 Ben Lummis If your a fan of rock N roll then this is the film for you. like me i'm da nz idol winner 5 stars
2/06/04 Joe Mommah Best Movie I've ever ******* seen! Lou Diamond Phillips really expresses Ritchie Valens. 4 stars
12/13/03 Chicky Baby NOT MY REEEETCHIE!! 4 stars
8/07/03 Krystle OMG I luv this movie...makes me bawl so tragically wonderful 5 stars
5/31/03 Biff Boffo Morales is so strong in his supporting role that I'd almost like to see a bio-pic on Bob! 4 stars
5/23/03 bear la la la la la la Bamba 5 stars
2/27/03 R.W. Welch Above average biopic, generally good performances. 4 stars
5/19/02 Captain Handsome Too "Selena", it gets bogged down in the melancholy shadow of tragic events 4 stars
5/14/02 Charles Tatum Nicely done biopic. 4 stars
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  24-Jul-1987 (PG-13)



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