All TV Biopics aim to be on the level of the Temptations or Little Richard, but often times they at worse are the Aaliyah movie or on the level of CrazySexyCool. However, with The New Edition Story, be it because it is in multiple parts and not cramming 5 lives and careers into two hours, the actors having proved themselves previously, and this not being one of their first major roles, or the fact that this just doesn’t seem corny, we may have a new classic.
Ronnie (Myles Truitt) | Ralph (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) | Ricky (Caleb McLaughlin) | Bobby (Tyler Marcel Williams) | Michael (Dante Hoagland) | Brooke Payne (Wood Harris)
Characters & Storyline
Part 1 deals with the early years when Ronnie, Ralph, Ricky, Michael, and Bobby were kids. In some cases, barely friends. However, believe it or not, Bobby lit the fire which got Mike and Rick onto the stage and when joined by Ralph, they started winning local competitions. All under the tutelage of a local big time manager named Brooke Payne. Someone who work these kids hard and was straight up, he may not make them stars but he will make them professionals. Though they became so much more.
As a manager, he looked out for those boys and with not a single one, in the movie anyway, seeming to have a father figure around, he became that. However, as they grew bigger, signed a record deal with this guy named Maurice Starr and their momma’s didn’t see no money from “Candy Girl” and all these tours, so ended Brooke’s tenure and began Gary Evan’s. Leading you to wonder if, like many a Black group, when the white manager comes along and brings fame and prominence, will he destroy and siphon off those he made into a star?
Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Brooke came up with the name for New Edition yet, likely cause he genuinely loved them kids, and since Ronnie was his nephew, he didn’t try to get any money from making up the name.
- Bre-Z is barely in part 1.
Names, Dates, and Time Period
Being that I know nothing about New Edition besides their songs, I appreciate how things are broken down. Everyone got a little name tag when we first met them, dates and what was the important song, moment, or era was noted, so it helps give you reference points as to, in the future, you know when to start embarrassing your kids with trying to imitate their dance moves.
It Establishes an Era
The late 70s to mid-80s aren’t treated as just a time stamp. The style, the attitudes, and the music shows a different era. One in which the Jackson 5’s dominance made everyone either want to imitate them or do their rendition of the the smooth and coordinated dances of The Temptations. Clothing wise it is like looking into your parents’ childhood photographs and the attitudes? While there maybe no cursing to be heard, the way some strut says a lot and you can tell by the way the adults act and the kids communicate that these were memories relived.
It Helps You Understand Why New Edition Has Broken Up and Eventually Got Back Together
Things begin with Bobby and one of the members of Bel Biv Devoe fighting and then we jump back to when it all began. With that, you can see the seeds planted that eventually cracked through the concrete like friendship which seemed to bond these boys. For with Bobby, who started it all, losing his chance to be in the spotlight, seemingly pushed to the side, Ralph being treated as a new edition of Michael Jackson, and some like Mike not even sure if this life is what he wants, we are shown that things are complicated. For while they relied on each other to get out of poverty, the fame which was the result of their hard work created the type of egos that friendship couldn’t withstand.
The Kids, Arguably, May Hold Ground With the Older Versions
Though the only kid I recognized was the one from Stranger Things, arguably, depending on the teen/ adult versions of everyone, we could have a case like The Wood where the cuteness of the kids, them experiencing things for the first time, could trump the sex crazed teen and adult years. Of which, I fear, the best things about them could be the songs and not necessarily the story portrayals or acting.
On The Fence
The Mother’s & The Hood
Naturally, in the era we are currently in, people want to keep things positive. The hood isn’t going to be portrayed as dangerous and entrapping as it likely was back then. Also, as much as you may want to say certain mothers of the group might have been willing to exploit their child for money, at the same time there is no real pursuit in that thought. At worse, maybe they did want to see some cash coming from these hit records and all this work, yet who is to say if it was because they wanted to benefit from it or they wanted to see their sons get more than $500 and a Betamax?
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
There isn’t anything wrong with this movie and, unlike with the TLC movie and Toni Braxton movie, you don’t get this vibe that you heard everything, saw the Behind The Music episode, and feel like they came up in the age where between tabloids, or the internet, you already know all their business. For while part one just deals with their childhood, a good foundation is laid for future things.
But the reason this is being labeled as Mixed is because, as iconic as the songs are, this doesn’t have that old school vibe which, honestly due to nostalgia, The Temptations movie had. Which, I know, comparisons will always put one product on a pedestal and everything seem lesser than because of it, but when you decide to dedicate 6 hours to 5+ people’s lives and career, like the dance moves, they need to be on point. With the performances we have thus far seen, I feel like it is at the level expected – That of a TV movie.
Which I recognize is unfair to say but like with Hidden Figures, it is like as successful as you can see this production will be, it’s like they wanted to keep things light and comical and just sporadically remind you things weren’t always smiles and giggles. However, when those real moments come around, because the weight of the moment is so quickly swept away, you don’t get the full impact of how success and triumph over the odds of actually becoming successful are.