Friday, June 6, 2008

When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts - Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

I didn't know much about Frankie Lymon, but when the ads started running for 1998's Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, I knew I'd be one of the first in line to peep this flick. And why wouldn't I? After all, this movie was all about the ladies, as the amazing trio of Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, and Lela Rochon were cast as Lymon's marital concubine.

When this movie dropped, Larenz Tate was at the height of his post-Love Jones popularity. I never really understood why women were so gaga over a 5-foot-4 midget they wouldn't give the time of day on the street, but hey, I don't have a uterus. Besides, there's lots of other far more profound stuff I also don't understand about black women. O-Dawg is the least of my concerns.

Halle Berry hadn't quite turned into a Hollywood phenom yet. Coming off a star turn in the blockbuster Independence Day (as a stripper, mind you) Fox was nearing her cinematic and physical prime. Rochon couldn't deliver a line if she drove a Verizon truck, and wasn't ever gonna be anything more than Sunshine from Harlem Nights, but they coulda made far worse choices for the third wheel.

But despite having all that going for them, this movie just plain blew chunks. It was one of the rare movies that stunk from the opening credits. I remember watching the opening montage and thinking "Whoa, I just blew $6.50[1] on this?".

The movie is so unremarkable and unmemorable, I can't really recall anything notable about it. Ray it clearly wasn't. Maybe this had something to do with Lymon's relative lack of popularity. Eff' Gregory Abbott, Lymon is a real one-hit-wonder. I mean, seriously, will anyone wanna watch Off On Your Own Girl: The Al B Sure Story 40 years from now? I seriously think not.

The film's entire premise wasn't Lymon's musical legacy, rather his serial womanizing and drug habits. But that in and of itself isn't enough to make people care. So all that's left is an overdone performance by Tate, a complete mail-in job by Berry, and the pretty faces, yet woefully inadequate talents of Fox and Rochon. It's no wonder this clunker crashed and burned.

What is amazing is just how this one bad movie (it barely grossed $12M) completely ethered the careers of everyone involved, except for Berry. Tate went from leading man to greasy-talkin' action-movie sidekick (Crash, A Man Apart, Biker Boyz) almost instantaneously. And that's a shame, cause dude really did have some chops, as seen in movies like Dead Presidents, Menace 2 Society and tv's South Central. I bet he looks at contemporaries like Terrence Howard with the same "that used to be me" wistfulness that Aaron Hall feels when he watches "Trapped In The Closet".[2] It's a shame really.

Fox was never incredibly talented in the first place, and her career took a sharp turn for the worse as well. She's since gone on to be more known for her brief dalliance with 50 Cent, and a startling series of awful plastic surgeries than perhaps anything she's done career-wise. Rochon got married, got pregnant, and got ghost. I haven't seen her on anything since. Where's the milk carton when you really need it?

In spite of this massive cluster, Berry went on to become a household name, forever immortalized by her Oscar winning performance in the equally dreadful Monster's Ball[3]. But to be 100% serious, she hasn't made a movie with any of the emotional depth of her early performances in flicks like Losing Isaiah and Jungle Fever. She's cashed in, but you still sorta feel like she never quite lived up to her full potential, Tracy McGrady-style.

Why Do Fools showed, perhaps better than any movie this side of Kingdom Come, that it takes a lot more to make a good black movie than some relatively well-known names on the marquee.

Question: Did you see Why Do Fools Fall In Love? What did you think? You got any future nominees for this feature?

Frankie Lymon [Wiki]

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? [Wiki]

More of When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts []

[1] Ahhh, $6 movies. Those were the days.

[2] I mean, seriously. Talk about merckin' a guy's career. I bet this dude has nightmares about Robert Sylvester Kelly to this day.

[3] Coming soon. Just gimme some time.

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