This brightly colored, formulaic biopic examines the tragically short but musically influential life of '50s doo-wop sensation Frankie Lymon. Born in Harlem, Lymon started his career at the tender age of 13 with a group of
childhood friends; they eventually became known as the Teenagers. Their debut single, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?," was an instant chart topper, but when Lymon went solo, both he and the Teenagers had difficulty recapturing their early success. Only 26 when he died, Lymon's life was nonetheless
sufficiently complicated -- he married three times but failed to obtain a single divorce - to merit the flashback treatment given by SELENA director Gregory Nava. Played engagingly by Larenz Tate, Lymon emerges as a talented and charismatic performer, a slippery lover and an addict whose poisons
included fans' applause, heroin and romantic love. Nava and screenwriter Tina Andrews use the wives -- Zola (Halle Berry), a successful singer with the Platters; Elizabeth (Vivica A. Fox), a dodgy sometime shoplifter who's dedicated to Frankie despite his heroin addiction; and Emira (Lela Rochon),
a goody-goody Southern schoolteacher -- as a prism through which to view the multiple Frankies. Long after Frankie's death, the three Mrs. Lymons converge on his record company in search of royalties, having learned that Diana Ross's cover of Lymon's signature song has again cracked the Top 10.
Their conflicting claims spark a multilateral legal battle with record company owner Morris Levy, whose deal with Frankie deprived The Teenagers of their rightful credits and royalties. Lymon's short career paved the way for musical figures like Ross and Michael Jackson, but unfortunately,
Hollywood doesn't always give you the biopic you deserve.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: This brightly colored, formulaic biopic examines the tragically short but musically influential life of '50s doo-wop sensation Frankie Lymon. Born in Harlem, Lymon started his career at the tender age of 13 with a group of childhood friends; they eventua… (more)