The Sparks Brothers Image

I really knew next to nothing about the real men behind some of the most amazing songs to have ever been written. Sparks always seemed just like a legendary mystical sentient being that cranked out brilliantly crafted songs unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, not actual people. The band consists of two brothers, Ron and Russell Mael. Before anyone might ask, Ron is the one with the mustache. They sometimes perform with just the two of them, and sometimes there’s a larger band to round out the sound. Several of their old bandmates, managers, and promoters appear in The Sparks Brothers to talk about the different iterations of the band.

Something else I could’ve sworn was true about Sparks is that they were British. They are definitely not. The Maels were born and raised Californians. They just so happened to be more popular in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe for most of their career, having never really enjoyed too much mainstream success in their home country.

“…check out this funny, heartwarming, and thorough documentation of Sparks’ career.”

The great thing about The Sparks Brothers is that it is accessible to their biggest fans and people who have never heard a single one of their songs before. You learn so much about the band and the making of every album that you come out more musically educated. Wright used a series of cool animations when footage wasn’t readily available. Plus, there are also so many excellent commentators: Flea, Fred Armisen, Mike Myers, Weird Al Yankovic, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor from Duran Duran, Jason Schwartzman, Thurston Moore, Scott Aukerman, Todd Rundgren, Pamela Des Barres, Giorgio Moroder, Jane Weidlin, and many others sing the praises of Sparks. Wright conducted 80 interviews altogether. Something that is neat about the interviews is that he talks to celebrities and regular old fans. He interviews a woman who once ran onstage and hugged Ron Mael during a performance. He even includes the president of their fan club. This documentary cannot be accused of not being thorough!

So, if you’re a fan of Sparks, or even if you’ve never heard of Sparks before but are a fan of Edgar Wright, you should absolutely check out this funny, heartwarming, and thorough documentation of Sparks’ career. It’s a benchmark by which all future music documentaries will be judged, in my personal opinion. Any movie that can make two-and-a-half hours fly by is well worth watching. The Sparks Brothers also solidified my Sparks fandom and has me on the lookout for more of their albums. I guarantee that by the end, you will fall in love with Sparks. At least, I hope you do, or else “This Town Aint Big Enough For The Both of Us.” (This town is the internet, that joke is only for Sparks fans.)

The Sparks Brothers screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and the 2021 Hot Docs Film Festival

The Sparks Brothers (2021)

Directed and Written: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Edgar Wright, Flea, Mike Myers, Fred Armisen, Scott Aukerman, Todd Rundgren, Steve Jones, Jason Schwartzman, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Sparks Brothers  Image

"…before anyone might ask, Ron is the one with the mustache."

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