Do you like documentaries about obscure bands? Do you like music? Do you like to have fun? If you answered yes to ANY of these questions, as soon as you’re done reading this go out and grab a ticket to see Edgar Wright’s newest film THE SPARKS BROTHERS in theatres ASAP.
“Who are the Sparks brothers?” you may ask. In short, the best, most famous band that you’ve never heard of. Or have you? When I was thinking about what I was going to write for this review I thought that I have a lot of friends in the music industry and an even bigger group of friends who are ‘in the know’ about music so surely I have friends who are long-time fans of Sparks, right?
When I saw the trailer I thought “Is this a joke? This is a mockumentary, right?” “No” I was told, “It absolutely isn’t, they’re real and they’ve been around since the 60s.” American brothers Russell and Ron Mael have indeed been making music as Sparks for over 50 years. Various musicians and personalities like Duran Duran, New Order, Weird Al, Pamela DesBarres, and Todd Rundgren are interviewed about being inspired by and/or working with the musical duo over the years. Sparks are both hugely popular to each of the interviewees and also a conundrum to them. They’ve been around forever and have played with the biggest names in rock and pop and yet have never really made it “mainstream”. I had an epiphany that maybe I’ve seen every musical act in the documentary live EXCEPT for Sparks. Minutes later when the brothers talked about their collaborations with Giorgio Moroder I realized why YES I have heard this music before! And several remixes of these tracks. 🤯
Director (and self-proclaimed Sparks fanboy) Edgar Wright does a fantastic job telling Sparks’ story by blending interviews, historical concert footage, photos, recreations, and animations; all of it smart, funny, and touching. The brothers are incredibly lovable in the doc and have led quite an interesting life. You’ll understand why Edgar and so many others love them and I think you’ll fall in love with Sparks too.
As I was going to bed after the screening last night I was sad I hadn’t had a chance to see them live. Cut to today’s early morning research: I found that maybe I did see them after all – at least a few minutes of their 2013 Coachella performance. I was there and they played at exactly the time I would have been at that particular stage (Mojave). Sparks had been there all along in my life, and there’s a good chance they’ve been there in yours and you don’t even realize it.
THE SPARKS BROTHERS is currently showing in a limited release at your local multiplex and arthouse theatre. It’s my absolute favorite new film of 2021 so far and I think it might be yours too. Don’t let the most famous band you’ve never seen become the best film you’ve never seen.