“Love and Mercy” is a biopic movie about Brian Wilson, the creative genius of the Beach Boys. I usually stay away from biopics about musicians and singers…especially movies that focus on a band or star performer that seemed special as we were growing up. Hollywood screen writers typically create story arcs around alcoholism, drug addiction, parental abuse, suicide or some other dark part of their subject’s life.
Interestingly, Hollywood can do biopics about sports heroes, and produce feel-good stories. But when they approach the music world, they usually go off the rails. Movies about Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin, Jim Morrison, Tina Turner and Janis Joplin (upcoming), somehow focus on the worst life dramas of the performers we love.
I initially thought that “Love and Mercy” would be like the others of that genre, focusing only on Wilson’s well-known mental illness. Though those problems are a major part of the movie, we’re eventually moved in a different direction…one that actually happened in real life. And as moviegoers we leave the theater smiling, retaining the iconic Beach Boys music in our memories.
The movie of course includes many songs we remember, if we grew up in the Beach Boys era. Throughout the story, yet another familiar song emerges—Surfer Girl, Good Vibrations, Fun Fun Fun, God Only Knows, Surfin’ USA and many others. Everyone in the theater seems to be thinking, “Oh yeah! I remember that one!”
The music brings us back to that time, and then we see the crushing mental effort and eventual breakdown experienced by Brian Wilson. Wilson’s plight becomes almost impossible when he comes under the legal guardianship of a maniacal therapist who controls him with overdoses of brain-numbing pharmaceuticals.
Finally, as in real life, a woman who loves him, fights for him and gets the therapist legally removed from controlling Wilson’s life. And we finally learn that Wilson recovered, married the lady, adopted kids, and still works with music…in other words, a normal life, not created by Hollywood.
Memo to Hollywood: Stop creating tragedy for the music and performers we love. There’s no way that I’ll buy tickets for AMY—the new movie about Amy Winehouse. I already know how that story ends, and don’t need Hollywood to make it worse.
My book “The Victory that Wasn’t” offers a fictional alternate history with a different kind of Military, and better outcomes for all Americans. It’s available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1GUL8oX