Wow it’s been a while. Between long days at work, a hurricane, and more long days at work, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like. But last night I saw a movie that got my bloggy juices flowing again: 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers.
Let me start by saying this isn’t the greatest movie, not by a long shot. It moves incredibly slow, it’s impossible to identify or sympathize with the characters, and the plot is kinda dumb. So why blog about it? Because the movie takes place in New Jersey!
Starring a young and fresh-faced Ellen Barkin (before she became an old yet still oddly fresh-faced Ellen Barkin), and a bunch of no-name character actors from the 80s, the film tells the story of Jersey Shore bar band, Eddie and the Cruisers. Though briefly successful in 1963, the band disbanded when lead singer Eddie Wilson seemingly committed suicide after the record label refused to release their second album, because it sucked. Eighteen years later, with the re-release of the band’s premier album, Eddie and the Cruisers are more popular than ever.
Under these circumstances, Barkin’s journalist character decides to interview the surviving band members to find out two things – what happened to the recordings for the second album, which somehow disappeared the day after Eddie disappeared, and whether there’s the possibility that Eddie might have faked his own death. Yadda yadda, I told you this wasn’t the best movie.
What makes the movie interesting though is the music – which is pretty much identical to Bruce Springsteen’s. In fact, the entire band is pretty much a recreation of Bruce and the E Street Band. You have the brooding, strong-jawed lead singer growling through each song (Springsteen), the talentless female backup singer/tambourine player who’s just there because she’s sleeping with the singer (Bruce’s wife, Patti), an African-American saxophonist (Clarence Clemmons), and a guitar player angling for the spotlight (Steven van Zandt). And just like the real E Street Band, there are a couple other generic members who just kind of blend in.
Even the main theme from the movie, and Eddie and the Cruisers’ biggest hit, could easily pass for a Bruce song. “On the Dark Side,” which appears on the radio everyone now and then, would not be out of place at all on a Springsteen album – the name is obviously inspired by “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and the song itself is reminiscent of “She’s the One.” Keep in mind, the story takes place in 1963, yet the music is clearly inspired by mid-70s rock. So, how does the movie explain that discrepancy? Eddie and the Cruisers were clearly ahead of their time! In fact, that’s why the record label hated the band’s second album – the 1963 audience couldn’t appreciate it!
So, whatever happened to the lost recordings? And is Eddie really alive after all of these years? And why the hell does the end suddenly turn into a horror movie? You’ll have to see it yourself to find out – or at least watch the last five minutes, when all loose ends are neatly and conveniently tied up. Ok, despite the negative review, it is still a fun movie, with plenty of Jersey references to make it worthwhile. If you live outside the state, though, don’t waste your time.