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Leslie's Movie Reviews (23)

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Great Balls of Fire! 
Great Balls of Fire
3/4 stars

“Great Balls of Fire” is the biopic of Rock & Roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis. Dennis Quaid stars as the rollicking, flamboyant piano man who would go on to nudge the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley himself, out of the number one spot on the music charts. The movie chronicles his rise to fame, along with his dualistic spiritual existence, intensified by the constant insistence of repentance by his evangelizing cousin, Jimmy Swaggart, played by Alec Baldwin.

The movie is rife with maxims like “Narrow is the way to salvation and broad is the path to destruction,” and “Put a black left hand and a white right hand together and you’ve got Rock & Roll.” Whether it’s the Bible or the Blues, Jerry Lee Lewis has a wealth of tradition at his disposal from which to draw from, and ultimately create his own version of righteous rhythms. Yet his own undoing comes, ironically, not from the temptation of the devil, but from the purest embodiment of innocence found in his 13 year old cousin. Lee’s marriage to Myra Gale Brown (Winona Ryder) causes a backlash of repudiation from puritans both domestic and abroad. He falls out of the top 100 on the charts and back into the obscurity from which he first emerged as the new King of Rock & Roll.

Nevertheless, despite the demand for a public apology, it is his unwavering love and affection for his wife, though not without instances of betrayal, which sustains Lewis’ music. Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder dramatically display an emotional vortex made of forbidden love and ambition. If you’re a Rock & Roll fan, you’ll love “Great Balls of Fire,” and probably find yourself dancing in your seat throughout the movie.


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