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Judge: You’re going to walk out of here with absolutely nothing.
Tina: Except my name.

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What's Love Got to Do with It is a 1993 Biopic, based on the 1986 autobiography of Tina Turner. The main stars were Angela Bassett, Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly, and Laurence Fishburne. The film was directed by Brian Gibson, previously known for such films as Breaking Glass (1980) and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986).

The film covers the life of Tina. She's first seen as little Anna Mae Bullock (Kelly), a child born and raised in Tennessee. Then teenage Anna Mae (Bassett) moves in with her mother Zelma Currie-Bullock (Jennifer Lewis) and older sister Alline (Phyllis Yvonne Stickney) in Saint Louis, Missouri. Her sister introduces her to the nightclub scene, where Anna Mae meets musician Ike Turner (Fishburne).

She at first works as Ike's vocalist before becoming his partner "Tina" and then his wife. The film goes on to examine both their music careers and turbulent personal lives through several decades as Ike becomes increasingly unstable and abusive. Eventually, she leaves him (they separated in 1976, and the divorce followed in 1978), and goes solo in the music world to great success.

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This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: This wasn't first time Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne had a rocky marriage.
  • Adapted Out: Raymond Hill, who was Craig Turner's biological father, is not portrayed in the film. In fact, Craig is depicted as Ike and Tina's first of two sons together. (They only had one – Ronnie – who was given an Age Lift in the film to make him several years younger than his brothers.)
  • Adult Fear: Imagine doing something fun on an ordinary day at home and suddenly one of your kids returns home covered in blood, possibly from being beaten by their abusive parent.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Tina defends Ike's abuse of her (just minutes after a beating), one of her backup singers comforting her, Jackie, then fires back at her: "Is he sorry for all the other times too?"
  • Artistic License – History: A lot of events depicted in this movie were historically inaccurate. One such example was calling Private Dancer her first solo album; it was her fifth. You've also got "Proud Mary" first being performed in 1968, a year before Creedence Clearwater Revival made it a hit as their original recording. And Tina's 1968 suicide attempt (by downing sleeping pills before a show) taking place in the early '70s.
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    • The Other Wiki has a whole list dedicated to some of the inaccuracies.
    • The film takes place in 1958, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980.
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Don't Wanna Fight" by Turner.
  • Berserk Button: For Ike, being told that all his songs sound the same and that he's got his "own style." This triggers the first scene explicitly showing his physically abusive nature.
  • Big "NO!": Tina yells one when she sees that Ike has tracked her down and forcefully takes her and the kids back.
  • Broken Bird: The film features Tina Turner's take on her own tragic backstory.
  • Bungled Suicide: Tina attempts suicide by overdosing on a whole bottle of sleeping pills. Thankfully, her backup singers immediately notice something is wrong and she is rushed to the hospital.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ike curses up a storm at Tina when he's stressed out, angry and high on cocaine.
  • Composite Character: Frost (Chi McBride) is a composite of several members of Ike and Tina's backing band. Likewise, Jackie (Vanessa Bell Calloway) is a composite of multiple backup singers (the Ikettes) and friends of Tina.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Tina develops one after being raped by Ike and tries to commit suicide.
  • Disappeared Dad: He leaves Anna Mae at an early age. His eventual fate is not covered.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Inverted. When Tina finally left Ike, the only thing she pursued to keep was her marital name.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After years of abuse and domination by Ike, Tina finally snaps and gives him a nasty beating of his own in a violent dispute in a limo. He still tries to give orders afterwards, but a Death Glare from Tina leads him to back off, signing his gradual loss of dominance over her.
  • Domestic Abuse: Several scenes depict Ike abusing Tina.
  • Driven to Suicide: After being raped and beaten repeatedly by Ike, Tina attempts to kill herself by swallowing an entire prescription of sleeping pills. However, she is saved at the last minute by her backup singers.
    • Jealous of Tina, Lorraine threatens her with a gun, then goes to the bathroom and shoots herself in the head.
  • Drugs Are Bad: As the fame grows, Ike turns to cocaine and other substances for stress relief and it is never good.
  • Ear Ache: During the limo fight scene, Tina defends herself by ripping out one of Ike's earrings, tearing his ear in the process.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Ike's hair gives a handy indicator of what decade we're in: pompadour in the '50s, moptop in the '60s, afro in the '70s, and finally a regular close-shaven look in the '80s.
  • Force Feeding: The infamous "eat the cake, Anna Mae!" restaurant scene. In which a drugged up Ike tries to force Tina to eat some cake and when she refuses continually, he shoves it in her face.
  • Foreshadowing: After getting together with Ike, Tina is noted by her backup singers to "eating a lot more" and putting on some weight. Nine months later, their first child, a son Craig, is born.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-Universe when Tina and Jackie are at the latter's house, having a good laugh mimicking Ike's mannerisms and distinctive way of speaking/talking down to people. While Jackie keeps on with the impersonation for a while, Tina stops in the middle, breaking down in tears as she is reminded that her situation with Ike is far from being a laughing matter.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ike starts to become more angry and unhinged when the crowd cheers for him and Tina, but the crowd's chants are "Tina! Tina! Tina!".
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Painfully subverted with some of Ike's abuse on Tina. Played straight after Tina finally snaps and mauls him in a limo, the shot cuts to outside, only hearing a loud pained scream from Ike. We next see them storm out of the car, both pretty bloodied and shaken.
  • Groin Attack: In the middle of another beating from Ike, Tina punches him off her. Despite a brief shocked pause, he quickly turns on her again, this time earning a very painful kick in the groin.
  • Happily Adopted: After Ike's ex-girlfriend Lorraine drops off and disowns their two sons together with him during an argument, Tina befriends them and take them in despite the circumstances.
  • Harmful to Minors: In the 70's, Ike and Tina's sons (biological and her step-sons) have to witness Ike abusing a bloodied Tina by dragging her down a hallway all the way to her bedroom by her hair. One of them burst into tears because of such a sight at their young age.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Ike Turner's violent streak is exaggerated into the levels of a borderline thriller villain for the movie. The film adds fictional scenes of him raping Tina and later threatening her at gunpoint (calling into question why he was never charged). Expectedly, this film was largely responsible for destroying the real Ike Turner's career.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Before Tina (then Anna Mae) impresses Ike with her singing at the St. Louis club, several other women are given the mic to sing. They're all awful.
  • Jerkass: Ike's increasingly abusive and envious treatment of Tina in the film borders an out and out Sanity Slippage. Naturally the real life counterpart wasn't too happy about his portrayal.
  • Love Triangle: Lorraine/Ike/Tina.
  • Mama Bear: Tina becomes this to both her sons and Ike's sons, and seeks revenge when one of her sons (Ike Jr.) is beaten to a bloody pulp by Ike.
  • Marital Rape License: Ike Turner pulls a Type A as part of spousal abuse pattern.
  • Mood Whiplash: An in-universe example. In a diner, Ike tells Tina to eat some cake, not too bad considering his character. But Tina refuses, saying that it's too early, and that Ike's high (and possibly drunk too). Then he gets forceful and smashes a slice in her face, and she angrily splashes her drink on her stoned husband, who's clearly making a scene. Ike gets up to beat her, but Jackie, her backup singer, stands up as well, and bears the brunt of Ike's violent rage, as he calls her out in front of the other customers in the diner for not "minding your damn business." Jackie storms out and urges Tina to leave before he kills her. Then, as if nothing ever happened there, he exclaims "Dayum, this cake good!", again offering some to Tina. That last line from Ike just makes the scene so outrageously over-the-top that it's hard not to laugh.
    • Several throughout the movie, with one infamous moment involving a fun pool scene go from fun to down-right terrifying when Ike starts to abuse her.
  • Never My Fault: Ike blames everything on Tina after putting her through several beatings and rapes.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: The movie shows Tina's gradual defiance and divorce from Ike, culminating in a fictional scene in which she cooly brushes off a threat at gunpoint, upon which he finally gives up.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Tina delivers one to Ike in the limo after taking up self defense and Buddhism.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Tina's face after she tells Ike he has his own style and his songs sound all the same and he tells her "what you say?".
  • Only Sane Man: Jackie is the only one who sees how wrong the abusive relationship between Ike and Tina is and tries to encourage her to leave him.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both parents abandon Anna Mae for years. Zelda invites a teenaged Anna Mae to move in with her. And makes clear she doesn't want criticism for the abandonment: "Now, don't think you're going to come live in my house and make me feel bad."
    • Being jilted, Lorraine disowns her two sons with Ike and leaves them at his and Tina's new home.
  • Pet the Dog: Tina's sister allows her to stay over at her place and teaches her Buddhism as a survival mantra.
  • Playing Gertrude: Jennifer Lewis and Angela Bassett depict a mother-daughter duo. Lewis was 36-years-old at the time, Bassett 35-years-old.
  • Rape as Drama: Tina is left broken down and crying after Ike forces himself on her in the recording booth. Not long after the rapes and the beatings does she attempt to kill herself.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Jackie quits and leaves after Ike hits her in a public restaurant for protecting Tina.
    • Twice Tina tries to escape her marriage with Ike and take the kids. The first time was unsuccessful. The second was more successful.
  • She's Got Legs: As Tina sings "A Fool In Love", the camera focus on her shapely legs for a few brief shots.
  • Survival Mantra: “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo...” Bonus points for being an actual Buddhist mantra.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Before their concert as a married couple to "A Fool In Love", Ike gives Tina a kiss on the cheek after forcing her to sing while suffering from a sore throat. A sign of things to change in their marriage soon enough.
  • Traumatic Haircut: While getting her hair bleached to look like Marilyn Monroe like Ike wanted, the hairstylist accidentally causes her hair to fall out. Luckily, she puts on a wig just before rushing onto the stage.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Ike asks Tina why she makes him hit her, blaming her for starting their fights.
  • Woman Scorned: Lorraine is not happy when Ike and Tina become attracted to each other. So she threatens Tina at gunpoint, then turns the gun on herself.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The relationship between Ike and Tina starts off with an affair between them after his girlfriend Lorraine tried to kill herself. Not soon after, Ike starts openly flirting with some of his backup singers behind Tina's back.

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