Biopics are undoubtedly the lamest expressions of music culture. The bulk of them are formulaic bores aimed at die-hard fans who can nod through plot points they already knew.
“I can't wait 'til they meet Ringo / beat porn addiction / kill that kid with their tour bus!”
Banal, predictable, and hagiographical are manageable for most fans, but some biopics are so bad, you'll probably just start hating the artist's music altogether. In honor of the recently released biopic of The Four Seasons, Jersey Boys, here are six examples.
6. Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story
A movie so literal and constantly self-describing, you'll think you're watching a muted episode of Thomas the Tank Engine being narrated to a blind person. Furthermore, if you take a sip of beer every time a character excitedly says “The American Beatles!?” you'll die of alcohol poisoning.
Awful takeaway: The Monkees invented boy bands. Thanks, Monkees.
Intended audience: Housebound invalids. People who've accidentally parental-blocked every channel but VH1.
5. Greetings from Tim Buckley
You've never heard of it? Shocking. If you were to tell us that there was a charisma drought among all of the available English-speaking actors globally, and that the people in this film were the only people available, we might excuse their leaden performances. Turns out that the only way to insult the legacies of two talented singer-songwriters – Tim and Jeff Buckley – is to make a ham-fisted biopic about both of them and shove it onto the “indie circuit.”
Key moment(s): Jeff Buckley moping.
Intended audience: Deadbeat dads. Guys who strum vanity guitars in deep neck vee-shirts.
4. Jersey Boys
This adapted Broadway musical about a glorified 1960s barbershop quartet – whose primary contribution to music is as fuel for bad falsetto / crotch-kick jokes – is full of fourth-wall-breaking asides. Lovely.
Key moment: What would have happened if, instead of a bowling alley, they swiped their name from some other broken neon sign? Frankie Valli and the Off Track Betting Inside? Frankie Valli and the Keys While U Wait?
Intended audience: Retired moms and / or anyone who openly describes their ethnic heritage in fractions (1/4th Sicilian, 2/9ths Dutch, 1/8th Cherokee, etc)
3. The Runaways
“I hate my parents, I'm gonna start a rock band and then I'm gonna go pee on my house!” is not an actual quote from this movie, but it might as well be.
Key moment: That one moment that there's no pouting.
Intended audience: Dudes who jump at any chance to see two young women sucking face.
2. Copying Beethoven
This completely fictionalized account of Ludwig Van's last years does nothing to honor history, music or the dramatic arts. The screenwriter who penned the line, “Music is the language of God,” clearly never heard the Spin Doctors.
Key moment: He's deaf y'all!
Intended audience: Ed Harris completists.
1. Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story
You're really just going want to fast forward to the part where drummer Rick Allen loses his arm. Even on a made-for-TV budget, the crash sequence and its aftermath betrays a special effects skillset that would make your high school AV teacher blush. After the crash, the actor playing Allen just stands there with no arm while a bystander staunches the non-existent bleeding. “I want my mum,” Allen says.
Awful takeaway: It was made to celebrate the fact that Hysteria is the 39th best-selling album in history, putting it behind records made by Bryan Adams and George Michael.
Intended audience: Rocket men.