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Great Balls of Fire!
Great Balls of Fire
Actors: Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder, John Doe, Stephen Tobolowsky, Trey Wilson
Director: Jim McBride
Genres: Drama
PG-13     2002     1hr 48min

They called it "the devil's music." To this, Jerry Lee Lewis whooped: "If I'm going to hell, I'm going there playing the piano!" Dennis Quaid gives a "rousing performance" (Gene Shalit, "The Today Show") as the defiant roc...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Dennis Quaid, Winona Ryder, John Doe, Stephen Tobolowsky, Trey Wilson
Director: Jim McBride
Creators: Jim McBride, Adam Fields, Art Levinson, Jack Baran, Murray Silver Jr., Myra Lewis
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Orion Pictures Corporation
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/04/2002
Original Release Date: 06/30/1989
Theatrical Release Date: 06/30/1989
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 48min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

Zorikh Lequidre | Brooklyn, NY | 12/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As Myra Gale Lewis herself said, this story is "true as far as it goes," but does not tell the whole story. It covers the main events of Jerry Lee Lewis' life from his meeting of Myra and geting a contract with Sun Records to the birth of his son Steve Allen Lewis during the midst of his blacklisting. It leaves out a lot of the more unsavory and darker details of the lives and characters of hese two young lovers.That having been said, it's a fun romp that follows the typical Hollywood rock & roll musical bio-pic formula: young man has a new sound, while performing someone says "we can't play that music here, these people will kill us!" He does anyway and it becomes a big hit, then scandal strikes and his career takes a tumble. There are the typical scenes of performing, watching the music charts, montages of Jerry Lee's career, screaming fans, and so forth. Several legendary incidents are receated, such as burning the piano when he has to perform before Chuck Bery and Elvis showing up at the Sun studios as he leaves for the army. This is all done at a breakneck pace, with humor and fun. Music from the period is used liberally throughout the film, adding to the mood and the humor.Through all this is the impression the Jerry Lee is desparate for attention. He lives for the spotlight and being noticed. He is truly happy when people are going crazy over him, and gets very upset if he is not accepted as he is.The question of the morality of a 23-year-old, twice married but only once divorced man marrying his 13-year-old 2nd cousin is not truly answered. Though it does cause the big scandal, the characters are played as so naive and in love, one can sympathize with them even as certain people may recoil.There is a running sub-plot of Jerry Lee's relationship with his preacher cousin Jimmie Lee Swaggart. Jimmie's career as a preacher keeps him in conflict with Jerry Lee's life of rock & roll and brings out some very amusing exchanges. These really help define Jerry Lee's character. Some great lines include: "Don't thank God, just thank old Jerry Lee Lewis!"; "I am of the opinion thas such a God-given talent should be used for the glory of the talented."; "If I'm going to Hell, I'm goin' to Hell playin' the piano!" Jerry Lee may fear god, but he fears being ordinary and forgotten even more.Dennis Quaid is a total hoot as an immature doofus with a "God given talent." Winnona Ryder makes a very convincing 13-year-old discovering love for the first time and torn between having fun and growing up (later on certain people debated whose idea it was to have Jerry Lee played as less mature than Myra). John Doe, a singer-sonwriter himself, gives a great performance worthy of a funky underground cult film as Jerry Lee's cousin/band mate/father-in-law. Trey Wilson and Stephen Tobolowsky play off well angainst each other as the Phillips brothers of Sun Records. Watch for cameos by Mojo Nixon, Steve Allen, Jimmie Vaughn, Joe Bob Briggs, Michael St. Gerard (as the most accurate young Elvis ever!), and Dave Alvin (uncredited as a guitarist in the band at the closing number).Inaccuracies abound here. There is an extra member in Jerry Lee's band. The song "I'm on Fire" is performed on his first trip to England, when it wasn't recorded until 1962.Don't expect much, just thrill to the music here, and you won't be disappointed."
I can't believe it's not fiction!
rebecccccccccca | Cleveland, Ohio, USA | 09/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Goodness, gracious.. Great Balls of Fire is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Based on the life of Jerry Lee Lewis, responsible for such classic oldies as (obviously) "Great Balls of Fire," and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," it truly keeps your eyes glued to the screen. Dennis Quaid stars as 'The Killer' himself and portrays the ups and downs of Lewis' rocky road to success quite superbly. Staying with relatives, Jerry Lee meets and quickly moves in on his thirteen year old cousin, Myra (played by Winona Ryder, who gives Quaid a run for his money with her own stunning performance), immediately after his first song plays on the radio. People automatically love the song, and so begins the story of unbelievable success, love, and scandals -- every plot twist and turn that you would expect from a soap opera -- but these events actually DID happen! Keeping that in mind throughout the movie only makes it that much better. At times quite serious and dramatic, Great Balls of Fire keeps it just light enough to be absolutely hilarious at just the right times. In addition to the quite intriguing plot, this movie is also an in-depth look into the lifestyle of the fifties and sixties, and how what we don't give as much as a second thought to these days is what made heads spin back then. A definite must-see for fans AND non-fans of Jerry Lee Lewis, as it is a very informative and extremely entertaining movie."
The Killer personified!
Grizzly | Virginia | 02/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As far as recreating the rock and roll related events of Jerry Lee's life, this movie is tops. Dennis Quade gives 110% as the hard rocking musician. Under the instruction of the man himself, Dennis quade learns how to play all the great songs on the piano. As your watching the are actually watching Dennis play that piano. Jerry Lee was a fireball in his early days and this movie shows how crazy he really got to be. Entertaining, insightful and as rocking as you could ask for; this movie shows there IS a whole lot more to Jerry Lee Lewis than Great Balls of Fire. Seeing him rock out with Dennis Quade at the end of the movie was an added bonus...the Killer still has it!"
The Real Jerry Lee is Much Nicer Than This
rain cloud | USA | 05/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a fun movie and the music is fantastic. I'm not griping really because I can see why they did this: Jerry Lee Lewis's stage persona is bombastic, over-the-top and larger-than-life. That's fine. I get it. HIs on-stage persona is really just show-biz. I once met him and he's really not like that. He's really a very nice, thoughtful southern gentleman. That's the truth. Yes, to people in his band he's a demanding perfectionist (so is McCartney, big deal). But to meet him and approach him he treats everyone with respect and kindness and is nothing like his onstage character.

That said, if you like him and his music you should definitely check this out bearing in mind it's a cartoon.

I'm just glad the killer is still alive and working the ivories."