In this highly entertaining biopic, we follow the journey R&B/doo wop singer, Frankie Lymon (Larenz Tate). At the tender age of 13, Frankie finds success with his friends in their singing group, The Teenagers, but once they catch the eye of a major record label, and Frankie’s unbelievable falsetto takes center stage, their new name (Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers) creates jealousy and tension in their ranks, leading Frankie to eventually become a solo act.
While the rise and fall of Frankie’s brief, yet impressive career is the subject of the movie, we only learn of these things through the court testimonials of the now-deceased Frankie’s three wives: acclaimed singer Zola Taylor of The Platters (Halle Berry), petty thief Elizabeth “Mickey” Waters (Vivica A. Fox), and small-town schoolteacher Emira Eagle (Lela Rochon).
When a popular diva samples one of Frankie’s hits, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, each woman heads out to claim her late husband’s royalties… only to be met with the news that they aren’t the only one, and will have to take the fight to court to prove who’s entitled to the money. Through their testimonials, we see various sides of Frankie. The bright-eyed boy he’d been when he’s first met Zola on tour, and how that boy had quickly become a jaded drug addict who routinely lied to and stole from her. The Prince Charming he’d been with Mickey, and how that prince became a toad who abused and pimped her. And the kind, sensitive man he was with Emira, one who remained steadfast and constant until the day his number came up in the draft.
The testimonials are equal parts hilarious, outrageous, and painful as each woman’s story illustrates how gentleness, love, care, and talent, as well as monstrosity, spite, callousness, and apathy can all reside in the same person. As the wives walk the courtroom through the labyrinth that was their late husband, they also come to varying degrees of acceptance and healing about who he was, and how being with him changed their lives for the better and worse.
At its core, Why Do Fools Fall In Love is the story of three women have nothing in common but love for a man who they never fully knew. Ultimately, their fight becomes not just one of royalties, but a battle to be legally acknowledged as the one he loved most, his “real” wife, which they all feel is owed them after what they endured. With these different perspectives of Frankie, as well as input from his former friend, Little Richard (played in the courtroom by the man himself), the court must decide which of these “fools” loved the hardest.
I give this one 4.5 stars.