Five Hearbeats, One Heart Break

Sometimes things from the past belong just there.  In the past.  I was recently smacked in the face with this fact.  My friends and I regularly reference memories of our childhood.  We talk about things that were awesome and shaped our lives.  On most occasions those references include clothes, games or movies.  When it comes to movies, I'm obsessive.  I want everyone to see the movie.  I love dialog, so I memorize the cool quotes and then use those quotes in real life situations.  Normally I do this with popular movies so I don't look like Rainman.  But here, I look like Rainman anyway because movies that were popular back home might not have been popular here.

My movie-watching prime was from the late-80's to early 00's.  I still watch movies regularly, but I must say I'm not quite the repeat watcher that I used to be.  The last movie I obsessed over was "There Will Be Blood".  You can't really go around quoting that movie.  Instead of Rainman, you'd look like Jack at the end of "The Shining".  People would mutter:

        - That crazy guy has a thing for milkshakes.

So my quotes are from dialog that I can apply to life situations.  Movies like "Friday" and "Pulp Fiction" are so popular (in Sweden as well) that you can be understood when dropping a quote.  You'll get a laugh and a pat on the back if the situation was right.  Not so much when you quote a less popular movie like "Harlem Nights".

This was a problem for me.  The movies that I considered classic, must-see films never got traction over here.  How was I going to show off my wit and memory?  Had I wasted all of those hours re-watching "classic" cinema?  No way!!! The only logical solution was to get my friends to watch all of the movies that I grew up watching.  Makes sense, right?

The movies that I quote regularly that didn't really make it to Sweden (probably due to low budgets and audience targeting in the States) were some classic Black movies.  I told my friends that I would host movie nights at my place and we would watch some classic Black movies.  I promised I would try to keep my quoting to a minimum.  That would be very hard for me.  Normally when I watch these movies, everyone has seen them and they all say the lines anyway.

First up would be "The Five Heartbeats".  I figured this would be a safe choice because it's basically a musical.  It is based on an R&B music group's journey through the 60's, 70's and 80's, so it shouldn't be dated since it's basically all a flashback.  Expat Jon, you're a genius! My friend and his girlfriend came over for dinner and I sold the movie like a pro.  They were excited to check it out.  There would be songs, dancing, drama.  You can't beat this!

 Have you ever realized that something that you loved so much just wasn't that good?  If you haven't, I really hope you never experience this pain.  It hurts me to type this... It's okay Jon, you can do it.  (deep breaths and tissue helped me through this)  The Five Heartbeats is not a good movie anymore.  There.  I said it.  The songs are still great.  The nostalgia was wonderful.  For me.  But the movie just didn't hold up over time.  I sat there for those awkward two hours waiting for the next good part that I remember to come up.  Only for that good part to be marred by terrible acting, or pointless scene setups or unrealistic dialog.  I had a pit in my stomach that lasted until the final credits.  It got to the point where I began heckling the movie myself (please forgive me, classic black movie gods).

If you have seen "The Five Heartbeats" and you love the film, just remember that you love it.  Do not... I repeat... DO NOT watch this film again.  It will break your heart as it did mine.  You will realize that it has two of the worst fight scenes in movie history (Eddie attacking Duck in the hotel and Dresser doing whatever that was to Eddie in that tunnel).  You may ask yourself how exactly did Jimmy die?  Was it a drive-by shooting from a garbage truck?  Did the truck hit him, making him spin around to his right and fall onto his car?  If the latter is the case, how did they time it perfectly to hit him while he was standing at valet humming?  Though the singing by Duck's little sister was beautiful; and their duet was sweet, how did that scene contribute to the movie in any way?  Without that scene, I would have had a pit in my stomach for five fewer minutes.  Why couldn't they get a somewhat decent actor to play Eddie Kane's dad?  He only has two lines!  That whole "You ain't shit..." scene ends with the worst acting EVER.  He sadly looks away from his wife into the heavens. Then just after telling his son "you ain't gone be shit, because I ain't shit" (model parenting), he says:

       - I just want him to be a better man than me.

What?!  That alone made the movie drop in credibility.  And that was only the third scene!  And what happened to Bobby?  He was supposedly the lead singer.  He gets shot after a card game and they never mention the guy again.  And who says "Ow, that's my good leg!" after getting shot?  And you know he got shot in his other leg, right?  And you know he said, "Ow, shit!  My other leg!", right?  I rest my case.

Some things should be left in the past.  Too bad stubborn old me had to have my heart broken to realize this.  One of my favorite movies ever is now a punchline to me.  And why?  Because I wanted people to understand my witty and well-placed movie quotes.  The week after, I talked to that same friend and he said something that I responded to with:

       - ...Well you ain't gone get it!  Cuz you ain't got it!

I sheepishly told him it was from "The Five Heartbeats".  Then he said:

       - I know.

So there is hope!  Next up, "Harlem Nights".  That movie is a classic!  I never learn.  Until next time...


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