Great Balls of Fire!

Watch Great Balls of Fire!

"The true story of a legend."
  • PG-13
  • 1989
  • 1 hr 48 min
  • 6.3  (18,831)
  • 49

Great Balls of Fire! is a 1989 biographical film about the life of the rock and roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis. The film stars Dennis Quaid as Lewis, Winona Ryder as Lewis's thirteen-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown, and John Doe as Lewis's bassist J.W. Brown. The movie chronicles Lewis's rise to fame in the late 1950s as he becomes one of the most popular musicians of his time. However, it also delves into his personal life, specifically his relationships with Myra and his first wife, Vivian.

The film starts with Lewis as a young boy, playing the piano in a church in Ferriday, Louisiana. It quickly jumps ahead to 1956, as Lewis arrives in Memphis, Tennessee, with the hopes of becoming a successful musician. There, he meets up with record producer Sam Phillips (played by Stephen Tobolowsky), who recognizes Lewis's talent and helps him record his first hit song, "Crazy Arms." The film then follows Lewis's journey as he becomes one of the biggest stars of the time, with hits like "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" and "Great Balls of Fire."

However, Lewis's personal life is just as important to the film as his professional one. His relationship with Myra, who is also his cousin by marriage, is a central focus of the movie. He falls deeply in love with her, and they eventually get married despite the social stigma and legal complications of their relationship. Ryder's portrayal of Myra is nuanced and complex, capturing her youthfulness and vulnerability as well as her resilience and loyalty to Lewis.

The film also examines Lewis's first marriage to Vivian (played by Lisa Blount), which falls apart due to his infidelity and general disregard for her feelings. This relationship is important because it helps to show how Lewis's upbringing and personality led him to make the choices he did in his personal life. Additionally, it serves as a contrast to his relationship with Myra, which is much more intense and passionate.

The movie features many scenes of Lewis performing his music, which are some of the most memorable parts of the film. Quaid does an excellent job of capturing Lewis's energy and charisma onstage, and the musical performances are all well-choreographed and filmed. The film doesn't shy away from showing the impact that Lewis's music had on his fans, as well as the controversy that it caused due to his wild persona and suggestive lyrics.

Overall, Great Balls of Fire! is a well-made biopic that offers a compelling look at the life of Jerry Lee Lewis. Quaid's performance is excellent, and the supporting cast is also strong. The movie offers a balance of music, drama, and humor that makes for an entertaining and engaging watch. While it might not be the most historically accurate portrayal of Lewis's life, it certainly captures the spirit of the time and the man himself.

Great Balls of Fire!
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 48 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.3  (18,831)
  • Metascore