Review by Camden Ferrell
The Sparks Brothers is a documentary about the iconic band Sparks, which is cheekily described as “your favorite band’s favorite band”. It had its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is the first documentary from director Edgar Wright. This eccentric group is given an equally fun and eccentric treatment in a comprehensive documentary that celebrates their music.
Sparks is a band consisting of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, and their career has spanned five decades and influenced numerous musicians. This documentary tells the story of their career from their formative years as children, attending a Beatles concert with their mom all the way to the present day. These are some truly fascinating and influential musicians that provide so much potential for a great documentary.
Upon watching this film, it certainly does not feel like someone’s first time directing a documentary. Wright seamlessly enters the genre with the skill of a seasoned documentary filmmaker. It feels like the eccentricity of Sparks compliments Wright’s own unique and quirky style of storytelling. While it’s his first documentary, it definitely feels like an Edgar Wright movie. It has a unique visual style that’s effective at telling a story entertainingly, and it’s a style that has fun with itself. There are lots of animations, cutaways, and gags sprinkled throughout the documentary that give it a noticeable personality.
The movie features various interviews with people like Beck, Weird Al, Flea, and many others. They all provide interesting commentary and anecdotes that elevate the film and truly illustrate the widespread affect Sparks have had on several people in the music industry. Sparks may not be the most popular act in the United States, so it’s nice to see so many significant figures acknowledge the impact Sparks have had on the industry.
The movie is around 140 minutes, and there are some moments that could have been cut. However, to the film’s credit, it surprisingly captures the entirety of their career and allocates time efficiently between all the eras and styles their career has spanned. It’s more comprehensive than I thought it would be, and it does a mostly good job of focusing on the most important aspects of their career over the last fifty years. The movie has plenty of archival footage and features many songs from their catalog that features hundreds of unique songs by them.
This is a movie that is great for die-hard Sparks fans as well as those who want to learn more about them. Wright does a great job of making this accessible to fans and novices alike, and he imparts his own style that sets it apart from other musical documentaries. This is a movie that captures the past and present of these two brothers while also getting us excited for what’s to come from them.
The Sparks Brothers is in theaters June 18.