Why Do Fools Fall in Love (film)

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Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGregory Nava
Produced byPaul Hall
Stephen Nemeth
Screenplay byTina Andrews
Music byStephen James Taylor
CinematographyEdward Lachman
Edited byNancy Richardson
Rhino Films
Warner Bros.
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • August 28, 1998 (1998-08-28) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$12,461,773[1]

Why Do Fools Fall in Love is a 1998 American romantic drama film directed by Gregory Nava. Released by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is a biographical film of R&B/Rock and roll singer Frankie Lymon, lead singer of the pioneering rock and roll group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers for one year. Moreover, the film highlights the three women in his life, each of whom claim to have married Lymon and lay claim to his estate.

Written by Tina Andrews, Why Do Fools Fall in Love stars Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Lela Rochon, and Larenz Tate, who portrays Lymon. Little Richard also appears in the film as himself.[2]

One of the single from the soundrack "I Want You Back" by Melanie Brown featuring Missy Elliott peaked at number-one in the UK Singles Chart.[3]


Lymon was 13 years old when the teenage group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers erupted from radios and jukeboxes with their 1956 hit "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and appeared in the movie Rock, Rock, Rock (1956).

After Mr. Rock and Roll (1957), Lymon started a solo singing career, but it all fell apart. Lymon's career was over by the time he was 18 years old, and he died of a heroin overdose seven years later.

Jumping from the 1950s to the 1960s, the film traces the rise and fall of Lymon (Larenz Tate) in a series of flashbacks as courtroom claims on Lymon's royalties are outlined by three women: Zola Taylor (Halle Berry) of the R&B group The Platters; Elizabeth Waters (Vivica A. Fox), a petty thief from Philadelphia; and schoolteacher Emira Eagle (Lela Rochon). Ending credits show the real Frankie Lymon singing his song "Goody Goody."

Little Richard also makes a courtroom appearance, while Miguel A. Nunez Jr. portrays Little Richard in scenes set in the 1950s.

The film ends with Emira winning Frankie's estate, although Elizabeth was named the legal surviving spouse of Frankie Lymon.



The screenplay of the film, written by actress-turned-screenwriter Tina Andrews, took fifteen years to be produced. Director Gregory Nava used most of the technical staff from his prior film Selena.[4]

Filming locations[edit]

Filming locations include: Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Starke, Florida.


The film was first presented at the Urbanworld Film Festival, New York on August 8, 1998.

The film opened in wide release on August 28, 1998 (1,369 theaters) and sales the opening weekend were $3,946,382. Why Do Fools Fall in Love ran for 8 weeks domestically (56 days) and eventually grossed $12,506,676 in the United States. At its widest release the film was shown in 1,377 screens.[5]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 53% based on 57 reviews, with an average rating of 5.91/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "This is a fun comedy with delightful musical numbers."[6] Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, was disappointed in the screenplay and ultimately Nava's direction of the film, and wrote, "There are several angles this material might have been approached from, and director Gregory Nava tries several without hitting on one that works. By the end of the film, we're not even left with anyone to root for; we realize with a little astonishment, waiting for the court verdict, that we don't care who wins."[7]

Yet, film critic Peter Stack liked the film and believes director Nava smartly juggles a lot of elements in the picture. He wrote, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love is a fresh, enlightening example of how to take a tragic American show-business story and make it funny, warm and terrifically entertaining...[it] brims with joyful spirit and raucous comedy...[and the film] deftly juggles a surprising number of elements, but they all work."[8]




  • ALMA Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role, Miguel A. Núñez Jr.; Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Feature Film, Alexis Cruz, 1999.
  • American Black Film Festival: Black Film Award; Best Screenplay, Tina Andrews; Best Soundtrack, 1999.



Two soundtrack albums were released for Why Do Fools Fall in Love by Warner Music Group. Why Do Fools Fall in Love: Original Versions from the Movie, released on September 8, 1998 by Rhino Records, contained fourteen songs, including five of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' original recordings. Also included are original hits by Little Richard, The Platters, The Shirelles, Otis Redding and others.

Why Do Fools Fall in Love: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture was released on the same day as Original Versions from the Movie, but on Warner's East West Records label. Save for one vintage Little Richard song, it features new hip-hop and contemporary R&B recordings more or less unrelated to the actual film (one track, Gina Thompson's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", interpolates the Teenagers' hit and is featured over the end credits of the film). Primarily produced by Missy Elliott and Timbaland, this soundtrack album features songs by artists such as Elliott, Busta Rhymes, En Vogue, Destiny's Child, Coko and, making her solo debut, Spice Girls member Melanie B.

"I Want You Back" by Melanie Brown featuring Missy Elliott peaked at number-one in the UK Singles Chart.[3]


  1. ^ Why Do Fools Fall in Love at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Why Do Fools Fall in Love at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 324. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Savada, Elias. Nitrate Online Review, August 28, 1998.
  5. ^ The Numbers box office data. Last accessed: December 25, 2007
  6. ^ "Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, August 28, 1998. Accessed: August 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Stack, Peter. San Francisco Chronicle, "Captivating 'Fools' Hits Right Notes Superb acting in pop idol's biopic," film review, Section D-16, January 1, 1999. Accessed: August 11, 2013.

External links[edit]