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THE SPARKS BROTHERS (2021) Review

Charlie reviews Universal Pictures THE SPARKS BROTHERS calling it “wonderful and delightful.” Catch the film in select cinemas now.

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The Sparks Brothers (Universal Pictures)

Universal Pictures presents The Sparks Brothers in select UK cinemas now.

Synopsis

How can one rock band be so successful, underrated, hugely influential and criminally overlooked all at the same time? Take a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers Ron and Russell Mael, celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks: your favourite band’s favourite band.

Review

Back in 2004 Edgar Wright immediately put himself on the map as a director to look out for. His first wide released film, Shaun of the Dead, became a hit and since then the director has gone on to create some truly original movies that I hold incredibly close to my heart. All of his movies are vastly different but some have reoccurring themes flowing through them. Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs The World are my personal favourites from Wright, however all of his movies really are classics in the making. Now, with the British director moving away from feature films to make his first documentary about the underrated music talent, Sparks, is Edgar Wright’s documentary worth your time? Absolutely!

The Sparks Brothers is a musical odyssey that spans five weird and wonderful decades starting in the ‘60s, where Ron and Russell Mael were living on a diet of popcorn matinees and pop music; until the spotlight of school talent shows illuminated their way on a musical journey as Sparks and spawned 25 studio albums.

Prior to the release of this documentary, I had never even heard of Sparks. Yet, on the run-up to its Sundance premiere in January, I started to listen to their music for the first time and some of their songs are truly excellent. With The Sparks Brothers, this documentary goes in-depth on all of Sparks’ music giving some insight into music that is some of the finest from the brothers.

You can see the passion leaping off the screen here from director Edgar Wright as well as Russell and Ron Mael. Wright clearly loves the music from Sparks and his direction here shows that lots of heart and care went into the making of this project. The way he uses imaginative animation to stylise events from the Sparks’ past is used in small amounts yet is incredibly effective. Those scenes are standouts because they make The Sparks Brothers feel different from every other documentary recently released.

The music sequences are also brilliant to see on-screen. It immerses you into the concerts while giving us a behind the scenes look at what happened backstage on tours. It feels refreshing and is a fascinating look at one of the most underrated bands in history.

The film also does an excellent job showing how Sparks influenced so many bands throughout the years without them even knowing where their bands originated from. If anyone has listened to a song from Sparks, you can clearly tell their ground-breaking stylewas unique and if you listened to other bands during the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, the style was often heavily influenced by Sparks.

Verdict

The Sparks Brothers is a wonderful and delightful, while slightly lengthy, two hour and twenty minute documentary on one of history’s most underrated pop groups, Sparks. It is incredibly different to the standard doc that is released nowadays while Edgar Wright’s direction is stylish and perfect. The animation is magical and different to anything that has been put on screen. If you are looking for a documentary to watch this summer then The Sparks Brothers is a must watch that is enchanting, unique and truly fascinating.


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