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The Sparks Brothers: An Excellent and Entertaining Documentary From Director Edgar Wright

June 17, 2021
The Sparks Brothers | Official Website | June 18 2021

Quick thoughts – A – The Sparks Brothers is my favorite film/doc of 2021 so far. The 135-minute running time flies by, and it would be great to see Edgar Wright tackle more music documentaries.

The Sparks Brothers is an extremely fun documentary about Ron and Russell Mael, two brothers who over the last 50 years have been  “successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time.” Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver), a man who absolutely loves music, and infuses his films with eclectic mixes of pop, punk, funk and every other genre, the documentary will make many people fans of Sparks (AKA the favorite band of your favorite band). The Sparks Brothers features recognizable talking heads like Jack Antinoff, Jane Wiedlin, Beck, Neil Gaiman and Flea, talking about the history of Ron and Russell’s band Sparks, who formed in 1967 under the name Urban Renewal Project, and moved on to become Halfnelson (1968), and eventually Sparks. 

Ron and Russell are wildly charming, and they make for perfect interviewees because they seem to be up for everything. There are skits, jokes, and interestingly framed moments by cinematographer Jake Polonsky (Senna, Blackmirror) that required good humor from Ron and Russull. The two brothers are likable, talented and wholly unique, which is part of the reason why Sparks never become a worldwide phenomena. Their sensibilities are slightly off-center (but still brilliant), as they embrace humor, unique looks, and experimentation with their music. The two haven’t stopped creating since 1967, and since they’ve never had any wild memoirs, or drug meltdowns covered by the media, they’ve stayed under the radar of mainstream audiences, and instead, built a loyal following around the world who love the 25 studio albums they’ve released. 

The documentary does an excellent job of showcasing their massive discography (and wonderful album covers), and tracing their journeys around the world where they’ve found success in places like Germany, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and Los Angeles. While watching, it’s slightly annoying that they’ve gone under the radar for so long, but it’s also amazing that they keep creating, and are beloved in the industry. Some of the interviewees actually break down in tears while talking about Ron and Russell, because they seem like such nice people who worked incredibly hard, and are nice to their bandmates and fans (which seems rare in the industry). It would be really cool to see this documentary build their reputation, and help them finally get a #1 album in the United States and abroad. 

Final thoughts: Watch The Sparks Brothers. You will love it. 

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