"'We ain't great. We're just guys from Jersey" proves to be a prophetic line from "Eddie and the Cruisers," a musical mystery bound for an early tour on HBO. It's a well- meaning disaster, full of corny dialogue and sour chords.

Newcomer Michael Par,e debuts as a sulky rock star named Eddie Wilson who vanishes at the height of his one-album career. The film goes about learning what ever happened to him. Par,e, a cook at Tavern on the Green before taking to the screen, has turned down his fire for the movies. Helen Schneider, who plays Eddie's girl and sings with his band, is a rock star in Holland but is badly miscast: She looks as if she was about to charge a Vuitton bag at Bloomies when the producer discovered her.

Schneider, costar Tom Berenger (vacuous as all get-out) and the other Cruisers reminisce with one another and with a simpering, schmoozing TV reporter (Ellen Barkin) on the 18th anniversary of Eddie's disappearance. The reporter is convinced that Eddie's still alive and figures that the tapes of his last recording session will prove it.

They say Eddie was a prophet, a poet, ahead of his time. Don't you believe it. The day after Berenger introduces him to poetry, Eddie gets the notion that boy-gets-girl music is not enough and decides to become Bruce Springsteen, but with the brains of a sponge.

Implausibility is the house specialty. At one point, Schneider takes Berenger to a junkyard, one of Eddie's favorite haunts, to search for the tapes. There's a giant sculpture there, looking like the Watts Towers meets the Throne of Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly. With Christmas-tree lights. And the dialogue goes, "He actually believed you could build a castle out of junk."

Apparently, so did the director. EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS -- At area Theaters.