La Bamba

La Bamba
La Bamba
  • PG-13
  • 1h 49m
  • 1987
Common Sense Media Iconage 14+
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The life of rock & roll legend Richie Valens bursts across the screen in this celebrated, music-filled movie with star-making performances by Lou Diamond Phillips as Richie and Esai Morales as his half-brother, Bob. La Bamba depicts the 17-year-old Mexican-American's rocket rise to fame, from field laborer to rock star with a string of hit singles and a date with destiny. Fueled by Valens' hit songs performed by the Grammy®-winning Los Lobos as well as classic '50s tunes, La Bamba recreates the thrilling early days of rock and pays homage to the enduring legacy of a remarkable talent whose music crossed all borders.
© 1987 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rotten Tomatoes® Score

Time Out
Nigel Floyd

An enjoyable if slightly innocuous biopic based on the brief life and short-lived fame of teen roc...

June 22, 2017
Variety Staff

La Bamba is engrossing throughout and boasts numerous fine performances.

June 21, 2017
New York Times
Janet Maslin

As Valens, Lou Diamond Phillips has a sweetness and sincerity that in no way diminish the toughnes...

June 17, 2017
Washington Post
Desson Thomson

Predictably, there isn't a Ritchie blemish in sight. But the circumstances of Valens' life seem to...

June 16, 2017
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Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media Iconage 14+
Common Sense Says
Sweet, sad rock-idol tale has violence, cursing, drinking.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that La Bamba is a 1987 biopic on legendary 1950s rock and roller Ritchie Valens. In addition to telling the story of Valens' rise and untimely death, the movie also shows Ritchie's brother Bob's struggles with alcohol. When drunk, Bob is violent to his girlfriend and family, verbally and physically abusive. When the movie begins, Bob has just gotten out of prison, and is later shown selling marijuana to a friend; the marijuana was taped to his chest, presumably smuggled. While confiding in his brother about his girlfriend, Bob tells Ritchie, "I almost have to rape her just to have sex." In the aftermath of Ritchie's heartbreak due to being unable to see his girlfriend Donna because her father is prejudiced against Mexican Americans, Bob tells Ritchie, "We gotta get you some tail," and the two go to Tijuana, where Bob takes Ritchie to a whorehouse. Ritchie wakes up the next day extremely hung over with a new tattoo in the hut of an elderly man. There's some cigarette smoking, as well as some profanity, including "f--k." Brief nudity is seen (female breasts) when young boys are caught spying on women taking a shower in a work camp on a farm. In addition, Ritchie's untimely death and his family's grief might be a bit much to take for more sensitive viewers, especially families who have recently lost loved ones.

A Lot or A Little?

The parents’ guide to what’s in this movie.
Positive Messages
Positive Role Models
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Additional Info

  • Genre:Drama
  • Release Date:July 22, 1987
  • Languages:English
  • Captions:English
  • Audio Format:
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