"Entertaining and Informative, but Extreme Caution Advised"
What You Need To Know:
THE SPARKS BROTHERS is a highly entertaining, funny, informative look at success on one’s own terms, helped along by strong family bonds between brothers. It’s designed for mature moviegoers to enjoy. The R rating is mostly for about 10 “f” words. Besides some cross-dressing references, there’s also some light violence, brief nudity and a few lewd moments in THE SPARKS BROTHERS. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
THE SPARKS BROTHERS is a documentary recounting the history of the band Sparks, which has released 25 albums in 50 years and survived an unbelievable rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, all the while led by the brother duo of Russell and Ron Mael. THE SPARKS BROTHERS is a highly entertaining, funny and informative look at success on one’s terms, helped along by a strong family bond, but it has strong non-Christian, Romantic elements with some “f” words, two light lewd moments and references to LGBT fans and cross-dressing jokes. Helmed by innovative director Edgar Wright (ANT-MAN, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, BABY DRIVER), the movie employs his distinctive style and wacky sense of humor throughout to create a documentary that’s as fun as it is informative.
THE SPARKS BROTHERS movie asks how a band can be both highly acclaimed by critics and musicians and yet be vastly underrated by the general public. To answer this question, Director Edgar Wright uses interviews with dozens of celebrities including the singer Beck, “Weird Al” Yankovic and star bassist Flea. The interviews show viewers the high esteem with which Sparks is held by the music industry. Wright then uses a seemingly endless stream of archival footage and performance imagery from their multi-faceted, ever-evolving career to bring their story to vibrant life.
Ron is the older brother, keyboardist and songwriter for the band, and has sported either a Hitler/Chaplin mustache or a pencil-thin one throughout his career. Russell is the younger, more handsome brother who sings their songs and leads dynamic live performances with strutting energy that rivals Mick Jagger. Together, they created music that “Weird Al” Yankovic describes as a “comedy rock band,” filled with absurd lyrics and a hilarious visual aesthetic that stretches across their onstage behavior and through their music videos to their comically outrageous album covers.
The Mael brothers have leaped from one musical genre to another throughout their 50-year career, from straightforward rock to disco to punk, and even to electronic dance music. Many of their albums and visual aesthetics are shown to be trendsetting and often decades ahead of their time, which has hindered their commercial prospects throughout their still-ongoing run.
Yet, despite their struggles, particularly during a devastating six-year dry period from 1988 to 1994, their innate brotherly support for each other always kept them afloat and gave them a resilient spirit that provides a good lesson for any viewers to learn from. The documentary also shows a conflicted history with capitalism for the brothers, who have managed to do pretty-well for five decades by operating completely on their own creative instincts, although their refusal to follow record-company directives has hindered their ability to break really big in the musical field.
A couple minutes of the movie show images of Ron cross-dressing for some of their album cover photos. The movie makes it clear he’s heterosexual, but he enjoyed cross-dressing for some photo shoots as a joke. The movie notes that, as a result, the band has many LGBT fans.
Overall, however, this is a highly entertaining movie for mature viewers to enjoy and discover a truly innovative, hard-working band of brothers. THE SPARKS BROTHERS movie is rated R for about 10 “f” words and other lesser obscenities. Besides the cross-dressing references, there’s also some light violence, a few light lewd moments and brief nudity. Mature viewers with artistic ambitions, including some young adults, might learn a lot from how these brothers have had such a long career. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE SPARKS BROTHERS movie.