Heartbreak Hotel advertises itself as a “rock and roll fantasy”; had it truly been that, it might have been something special. Most everything that happens in Hotel defies belief to some degree, but little of it truly feels fantastic. One can hardly blame Chris Columbus (in only his second film as director) for becoming enamored by the mythos of Elvis Presley, but his approach to king of rock and roll, like so many of them, feels minor compared to the man himself, and his legacy reduced to little more than a drawl and some cheesy catchphrases.
Wimpy teenager Johnny Wolfe (Charlie Schlatter) lives in an old hotel with his sister (Angela Goethals) and his promiscuous mother (Tuesday Weld). In a twisted bit of logic (to repair their relationship? To get her to stop sleeping with that guy from Twin Peaks?), Johnny reacts to her hospitalization by kidnapping Elvis (David Keith) with the intention of hooking him up with his mom. Needless to say, the real world consequences of doing such a thing do not occur, and Johnny ends up getting some valuable life lessons from the King. Keith does a passable Presley impersonation, and Weld’s carousing mom suggests a far more interesting character than was realized, but Heartbreak Hotel makes the King of Rock and Roll look pretty minor.
Not even chapter selection.
"Heartbreak Hotel" is on sale January 6, 2015 and is rated PG13. Drama. Written and directed by Chris Columbus. Starring Angela Goethals, Charlie Schlatter, Chris Mulkey, David Keith, Tuesday Weld.