A Montreal construction worker joins a band and turns out to be a long-lost rock star from 1960s New Jersey – none other than Eddie Wilson, who mysteriously disappeared after a road accident.
Joe West comes out of hiding……….. Ok, so you have to suspend disbelief a bit here, it’s all good and fun. We had to wait 6 years until we got handed a sequel in the form of “Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!”. By title alone, we pretty much get the point of this release…. Eddie never died. But then again, we knew that from the finale of the first film what was going on.
Eddie grew a mustache, took on a construction job, and somehow was able to keep folks from recognizing him as the famed “Eddie Wilson” (even as they sit in a bar watching it). That’s not to say that lately every time someone turns on the TV, there is another Eddie and the Cruisers special airing. I suppose he has the same gift as Clark Kent (being able to hide in plain sight)
Eddie finds himself having to face his past, get his chops in order, and form a band to make a comeback. The comeback answers the question “whatever happened to Eddie” (who was believed to be dead). So Joe West (really….Joe West???)heads out in search of worthy players to put together the best rock and roll outfit this side of Jersey. In the meantime, Satin Records is busy trying to pull a scam on the world that Eddie is still alive. Little do they know, that this is in fact true. Though the ploy helps them sell a few more albums including the release of Eddie and the Cruisers, “Season in Hell” unreleased album.
The world has changed, and with it faster guitar players and Eddie look-alike contests. It’s enough to bring Eddie out of hiding as he heads for New York, though despite progress, Eddie does have issues with it all.
The record label continues to try and make themselves rich off of a rumor that Eddie is Alive, new kid Rick Diesel (Bernie Coulson) provides the film’s mostly uncomfortable serving of band-stalking (this side of the movie “The Room”) while Eddie’s past is explored in order to close a few unanswered questions about where the band migrated off to.
A new band is formed while Eddie maintains his “I’m angry at everyone” persona. Out of all this comes some pretty cool John Cafferty songs which were immediately released onto a CD upon movie debut. Michael Pare returns and even shaves is mustache for the final scene.
Note: Thank you Pare for not leaving it up to a replacement actor to finish the story.
The film, despite its flaws, is a long time fav of mine mainly for the script and dialog interchanges that has Eddie giving advice on how music is “supposed to be”. It’s good stuff worthy of taking note for musicians who don’t really get the gist of what it takes and how music should be embraced).
Where viewers “probably” have issue here is that Eddie comes off as really angry through most of the movie. Almost to the point of being…..”ok, chill out angry guy, we get that you’ve got issues”. The film also takes an attempt at a love interest Diane Armani (Marina Orsini) which in my perspective was more unnecessary than anything (along the lines of ….we could care less).
The movie excels in its core ideas, which are music, an explanation, and a way to tie off the franchise with a feel-good ending. Really it is almost required that you watch both Eddie films, back to back, much like a TV series drama.
Much to the cry of critical reaction, I still have found the film intriguing enough to watch again and again over the years. It’s simply a really good rock and roll movie, which are far and few between.