Heartbreak Hotel

The rather crazed conceit of this rock ‘n’ roll fable by writer-director Chris Columbus (Adventures in Babysitting) goes something like this: in a small town in Ohio in 1972, teenager Johnny Wolfe (Charlie Schlatter) decides that the only way he can straighten out the lives of his sister (Angela Goethals), his single mother (Tuesday Weld), and himself is to bring together his mother, a passionate Elvis fanatic, and Elvis himself (David Keith). So with the help of some friends, he kidnaps the King after a Cleveland concert, brings him home, and sure enough, after a bit of irritation, Elvis turns into a Capra hero and brings a bit of light into the lives of everyone: he teaches the little girl how not to be afraid of the dark, romances the mother, fixes the lawn mower, gets Johnny’s rock group into his high school talent show, improvises a fully choreographed version of Ready Teddy in the local cafe, punches out a villain, redecorates the family’s hotel (appropriately called Flaming Star), and dispenses his patriarchal country wisdom to everyone in sight. Most movies, of course, are supposed to be fantasies, and one would like to think that Tuesday Weld was in on the absurdity of this enterprise, but this one treats it all straight, with a solemnity that may have you rolling in the aisles. David Keith, who doesn’t bear much resemblance to Elvis, nevertheless performs his peculiar duties honorably. (JR)

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