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The Elvis movie from the '80s that nobody remembers ...



Elvis Presley would have been 79 years old today. Here at Stuck in the '80s, we gather to celebrate (well, recognize) the big "Elvis movie" of the '80s: Heartbreak Hotel.

The 1988 film starred David Keith as the King of Rock 'n' Roll, who is kidnapped in 1972 by a teen boy (Charlie Schlatter) and his bandmates who want to fix the singer up with his mom. How do they do the kidnapping? Dressing up someone as Elvis' dead mother, naturally. Of course, a few sparks do fly between Elvis and mom and in the meantime, Schlatter gets a few needed lessons in life and rock from the King. Oh, and Elvis helps them renovate the hotel they own (hence the clever title.)

Lest you think this was some mere B-movie, it was written and directed by Chris Columbus, and the movie poster even boasted that Heartbreak Hotel was "From the creator of Adventures in Babysitting." (Alas, Home Alone hadn't been made yet.)

At least one critic -- the one who mattered most -- hated it. "Here it is, the goofiest movie of the year, a movie so bad in so many different and endearing ways that I’m damned if I don’t feel genuine affection for it," wrote Roger Ebert. And as for Columbus, "I don’t know what Chris Columbus, the writer and director of this film, had in mind when he made it," Ebert said. "One of my fellow critics, emerging from the screening and wiping tears of incredulous laughter from his eyes, said maybe they were trying to make a Frank Capra film - 'Mr. Presley Goes to Ohio.'"

Keith was an exceptional actor in the '80s (Still love him in An Officer and a Gentleman), but he doesn't look much like Elvis, no matter what year or hairstyle you set the movie in. Ultimately, '80s movie fans are left to wonder about the phenomenon of Elvis Presley and wonder why they should even care -- surely not the intention of this overwise light-hearted time capsule.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 10:15am]


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