Eddie and the Cruisers

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Eddie and the Cruisers Movie Poster Image
Dated, rock-themed '80s tale has suicide, drugs, profanity.
  • PG
  • 1983
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real positive messages emerge in this movie. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The members of an early '60s rock band try to come to grips with the presumed untimely death of the band's leader.

Violence

The presumed suicide of the leader of a band is discussed at length. 

Sex

Kissing. References to "getting laid." In a rhyming intro to a song, Eddie talks about going downtown to meet a girl, and the obvious unsaid last word of the rhyme is "f--k."

Language

Occasional mild profanity: "hell," "ass," "s--t," "son of a bitch." Talk of "getting laid." In the rhyming intro to a song, Eddie intentionally leaves out the obvious rhyme of "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking throughout. Drinking in bars. Beer and whiskey bottles on a stage where a band practices. One of the members of the band is found dead in his hotel room of a drug overdose. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Eddie and the Cruisers is a 1983 movie about a band poised to make it big in the early 1960s until the band's leader seemingly dies under mysterious circumstances. There's a lot of cigarette smoking and drinking in bars and music venues, but no one appears drunk. A member of the band is found dead of a drug overdose in his hotel room. There is occasional profanity, including "s--t" and "bitch" as well as the phrase "get laid," and a scene in which Eddie works the crowd with a rhyming intro about going downtown to meet a girl "who knows how to ... " with the obvious rhyme of "f--k" left out. 

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What's the story?

A TV reporter named Maggie Foley (Ellen Barkin) becomes intrigued by the mystery surrounding Eddie and the Cruisers, an early 1960s rock band poised for success until the apparent suicide of Eddie (Michael Pare) in the wake of his newest album. Foley questions whether or not Eddie actually died and wants to find out what happened to the recordings that were removed from the record label vault the day after he allegedly died. She begins to try to interview the rest of the Cruisers, who now, 20 years after their heyday, work various day jobs while still haunted by what might have been. Joined by Frank -- aka the Wordman -- the keyboard player and lyricist for the Cruisers (Tom Berenger), they try to piece together what happened to Eddie, find who is breaking into their homes to find the tapes, and discover if it really is Eddie who seems to be making mysterious phone calls and appearances late at night. 

Is it any good?

While earnest enough, Eddie and the Cruisers is dated in every possible way. The clichés of New Jersey, early '60s nostalgia, and the myth of the iconic rock star who might have faked his death all contribute to the outdated feel. The stereotypes of Eddie and the Cruisers themselves -- the sensitive bad boy lead singer, the naive college-boy pianist who writes lyrics inspired by the poetry of Rimbaud, the attractive woman who plays the tambourine while shaking her hips (because God forbid a woman actually play an instrument), the African-American saxophone player (who doesn't get any lines), the bass player who sounds and acts like every low-level mafia guy who ever got whacked on The Sopranos, and the drummer who just giggles through the first hour of the movie -- make this movie even cheesier.

It isn't a bad movie on its own terms, but it's impossible to get past how all these themes, characters, time periods, and places have appeared so often in other, better films. It's also worth mentioning that the music Eddie and the Cruisers make in 1963 that's supposed to be so ahead of its time and groundbreaking just sounds like warmed-over corporate rock from the early 1980s, like an Eddie Money B-side. This is part of what makes this movie, despite the clear sincerity behind it, unintentionally hilarious now.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies about bands. How does this movie incorporate the music into the story? 

  • How does the movie use flashbacks to tell the story? 

  • What are some other examples of movies where nostalgia is a dominant theme? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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