Clipped from CA, Manitoba, Winnipeg, Winnipeg Free Press, July 24, 1987

Heavy-handed production twists story of rocker Ritchie ValensThat notorious creature of twisted facts and maudlin melodrama, the Hollywood biography, is back on the silver screen,It pokes its Head out of the grave in the form of La Bamba, a slick, entertaining (If a bit heavy handed) look at the short life and fast times of pop star Ritchie Valens.Now Valens isn’t exactly a household name and, in fact, wasn’t around long enough even 30 years ago to bum himself into fickle teen-aged minds.Indeed, the producers of La Bamba found the original recordings of Valens* three hit songs in such poor condition they turned to the contemporary group Los Lobos to recreate the music for the film.Three hit singles at age 17 is extraordinary, but perhaps not theMoviesPaulMcKiestuff of legend. The pop immortality Valens has acquired is due to the unfortunate circumstances that placed him on the same plane as Buddy Holly in 1959.Until now, Valens has been a footnote in musical history, a minor pop artist who died with one of the greatest pop writers and performers in rock *n* roll.To its detriment, La Bamba ignores Valens’ actual position in the musical hierarchy and treats himas some sort of pop demi-god, destined for success and a tragic death.But this isn’t strictly a film biography of Valens’ musical progress-ion to the pop charts. Writer/director Luis Valdez has focused on the complex family relationships that were responsible for Valens’ success.Most important, and the best dramatic scenes in the film, is the taut friendship and love between Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips) and his half-brother Bob (Esai Morales).Valens’ real name was Ricardo Valenzuela, a Mexicait-American farm laborer with a passion for rock 'n' roll. In the film (and I have no idea how close to reality any of this is) Valens is a proud American, and a devoted family man. Bob is the black sheep, already having served time, ana apparently no better off for it. He feels neglected and carries a chip on his shoulder.It doesn’t help Bob any that their mother, Connie (portrayed by Ro* sana De Soto), always is praising Valens, bending over backwards to help him.Bob’s jealousy of Valens' success (and of the fact they didn’t share the same father) is the cornerstone of the film.It can be a compelling story, and certainly a sad one. But Valdez lays it on way too thick. Throughout La Bamba Valens* tragic death hovers overhead iike a lead weight. Every opportunity he gets, Valdez shoves in not-so-subtle symbolswhich scream out, “Hey, this guy gets killed in a plane crash ya know!”Then there’s the mother constantly professing that her son Ritchie is going to be a star some day. As Valens tells his girlfriend, Donna (Danielle von Ze'rneck), “Stars don’t fall from the sky.” If that line weren’t bad enough once, Vaidez puts it in the mouth of Buddy Holly (Marshall Crenshaw) as they taxi down the runway. Ugh.For all its Hollywood bombast, the poignant story of Valens’ quick fame and premature death is still moving.LA BAMBA • Starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, and Roeana Oa Soto. Proucod by Taylor Hackford and BUI Borden. Written an Directed by Luis Vaktoi. daseiftcatton; Parental Guidance. Grant Park and Garrick,