plays Lewellen, a preteen Elvis
fangirl living in the Deep South
during The '50s
. The movie she inhabits is a Slice of Life Coming-of-Age Story
. The other main characters include her careless father Lou, her religious psycho grandmother, her playmate Buddy, local Magical Negro
Charles, "Big Momma" Thornton (Jill Scott
), and mini-Southern Belle Grasshopper
. What little plot there is centers on Lewellen's desire to see Elvis perform in person.
This movie provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Lou shoots Lewellen's dog because it barked too much.
- Bookends: In the beginning of the movie, Lewellen tells Buddy that she's going to kill her father someday. At the end of the movie, as Lewellen is sneaking off to go with Ellen, her father appears to kill a rattlesnake but she remembers Charlie's words about rattlesnakes and she is about to warn her father but decides against it and her father gets bitten.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution: Lewellen's father gets struck by lightning and her grandmother believes it's this trope at work. And clearly God did it to punish Lewellen and not her father.
- Break the Cutie: Lewellen's life basically sucks worse and worse as the movie goes along, culminating in her traumatic rape by Wooden's Boy.
- The Caretaker: Lewellen becomes this for her father after he's hit by lightning.
- Children Are Innocent: Subverted with Buddy, who unwittingly helps lure Lewellen into Wooden's Boy's clutches, then fails to help Lewellen or tell any adults after the rape. To boot, when Wooden Boy gives him the Elvis tickets, he takes Grasshopper to the concert instead of Lewellen and hangs out with Wooden's Boy instead. However, he still cares for Lewellen as he peeked in at Lewellen and argued about her with Wooden's Boy when she got sick.
- Coming-of-Age Story
- Covered Up: Noted in-universe. Lewellen is surprised to discover "Hound Dog" wasn't originated by her beloved Elvis.
- Death by Despair: Nearly. Lewellen is so depressed after the rape that it causes her to get very sick and almost die.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Lewellen is barefoot for nearly the whole movie.
- The Fundamentalist: Lewellen's grandmother.
- From Bad to Worse: Lewellen's life isn't the best in the beginning and it only gets worse especially after she gets raped.
- I Have No Son!: "My daughter is dead."
- Innocence Lost: Buddy, thanks to Wooden's Boy's influence.
- Karma Houdini: Wooden's Boy, who is never held accountable for raping Lewellen.
- Kick the Dog: Wooden's Boy not only rapes Lewellen, but he also taunts her mentally disabled father one night when Lou wanders off.
- Given that Lou shot Lewellen's dog earlier in the movie, this could also be interpreted as a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment.
- Kids Are Cruel: After luring Lewellen to be raped, Buddy doesn't help her and takes Grasshopper to the concert instead and hangs out with Wooden's Boy instead. Subverted when we learn that he does still show concern for Lewellen.
- Lured into a Trap: Wooden's Boy has Buddy lure Lewellen into the shed where the rape takes place with the promise of Elvis tickets.
- Magical Negro: Charles, perhaps the only character, other than Lewellen, who is not a Jerkass to at least some degree.
- The New Rock & Roll: The Trope Namer is viewed as the "devil's music" by some characters, most notably Lewellen's grandmother.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Grasshopper's real name is Gwendolyn, but everyone just calls her by her nickname.
- Parent with New Paramour: Lou and Ellen.
- Parental Substitute: Ellen, until she runs off. Fortunately, she returns for Lewellen at the end of the film.
- Pink Means Feminine: Grasshopper's dress and headband are light pink.
- Playing Doctor: Lewellen and Buddy in the opening scene.
- Raised by Grandparents: After Lou is struck by lightning and rendered mentally disabled, Lewellen's grandmother becomes the parental figure in her life.
- Rape as Drama: The part of the film you've heard of.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: After the rape, when Lewellen plunges into a deep depression, she hallucinates that she is surrounded by snakes.
- Squee!: Lewellen's reaction to Elvis-related things.
- Teens Are Monsters: Wooden's Boy.
- Titled After the Song: And boy do we get to hear that song a lot
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lewellen and Grasshopper.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: 11-year-old Lewellen is seen smoking and drinking. This is apparently normal for her.