"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Eddie and the Cruisers II, Eddie Lives!" is OK

I thought I would never see the sequel to "Eddie and the Cruisers." I remember that release landing like a thud. I discovered the sequel on the "Charge!" TV network while surfing the other night, rather late at night. It was a pleasant surprise.
Certainly I was interested to see what this movie was all about, "dud" status notwithstanding. Sometimes when you examine something that has "dud" written all over it, you discover something redeeming. If you look at the "Eddie" sequel on its own terms, it has its moments. This is especially toward the end. It becomes like a big Bruce Springsteen concert.
Of course the "Eddie" sound parallels Springsteen quite a bit, and it's like Dion and the Belmonts if you go back to "Eddie Wilson's" formative times. The first movie presented this sound as cutting edge for its time. Wild rock 'n' roll was controversial in the pre-Beatles age. Eddie Wilson (fictional of course) went further. He got into a real progressive sound that was way out of whack for the early 1960s. The record company bosses would have none of it. A climactic scene has one of these typical shallow corporate music types telling about "a bunch of jerk-offs making weird sounds." That line stuck with me.
People in the music business will slam the door on anyone. The Internet and its immense possibilities has widened the horizons for all creative people. You don't have to try to get past that (expletive) velvet rope to try to enjoy the success of that very exclusive group. Small-time acts can pull their own weight. It's a blessing. Remember how the Beatles failed an audition with Decca? That shows how bad it was.
The sequel to the "Eddie" movie has some issues with how it's tied to the original, IMHO. Eddie explains that he did his disappearing act because of the insult of how he was treated by the company guy. Eddie had worked so hard on the new innovative album. I think there was more at work than that. There was a love angle in the first movie that sort of got buried. "Eddie's girl" was in that band, remember? And remember how Eddie saw his girl smooching with the Tom Berenger character at the college appearance? Remember how that incident launched Eddie into an angry dissing of the Berenger guy during the college concert? Remember the demoralizing effect this had for the whole band? I even saw this as a reason for the saxophone player's suicide that happened soon thereafter. The sax player was dragged into depression, as I saw it. The joy seemed gone.
The Berenger character named "Ridgeway" had the nickname "word man." The college incident nearly drove him away. Ridgeway in fact seemed the primary character in the first Eddie movie. His perspective prevailed. Berenger is not in the sequel.
Eddie explains in the sequel that he actually had a legitimate accident on the bridge, hitting the guard rail, whereupon the mishap developed into an opportunity to disappear. I always felt the disappearance was orchestrated all along. "Disappearing" is not something you can do on a mere whim. The Eddie in the first movie pulled it off, fulfilling the same destiny as that fellow who wrote the poem "Season in Hell." Really it was a masterful plot with a well-defined beginning, middle and end. Therefore a sequel would be quite challenging to plot, eh?
The first movie had belated success, only hitting paydirt when it found a home in the early days of HBO. It never succeeded on the big screen even with renewed tries.
A sequel represented a new attempt to juice this storyline up. The sequel was not successful. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy it if we just put certain expectations aside and give it a chance, on its own terms. That's what I did watching TV late at night.
I thought of the horrible reviews at the time of release. Bad reviews can get to be like a snowball rolling downhill. The critics really start pouring on the snark. Like in one review where I read that Eddie's girlfriend spent the whole movie crying. I didn't find that to be true at all. I think this actress did fine in her unpretentious way as a struggling young artist.
I found it charming and inspiring the way the great Michael Pare as a rejuvenated Eddie was a mentor for his group of young musicians who were finding themselves. The music and the sense of triumph at the end is boffo! Eddie finally introduces himself with the "Eddie Wilson" name.
At that point I wondered about the legal entanglement he'd end up in, by virtue of his re-surfacing after years of being considered "legally" dead! My, there would certainly be consequences to be faced. What if a life insurance policy had been paid!
Oh, but it's all about the music for Eddie and his mates! I suppose we can be inspired by that.
I didn't consider the sequel movie to be a waste of time at all. Oh, maybe it's an acquired taste. But I'm happy for Pare who gave us such a distinctive role. "Eddie and the Cruisers" helped define the 1980s. It showed that an artistic creation didn't have to get past that old "velvet rope" to get on its feet, make a profit etc. This is a consequence of tech expanding the boundaries for how art can be disseminated. I would recommend that you watch "Eddie and the Cruisers II, Eddie Lives!"
 
Here's a wrinkle: The first Eddie movie was nostalgic about the early 1960s, but when we watch it today, it's more nostalgic about the 1980s! Look at all the cigarette smoke floating around.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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