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SXSW Review: ‘The Sparks Brothers’

March 19, 2021Ben MK

With the exception of artists like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Aerosmith, not many music artists can boast of having the same kind of longevity and prolific creativity as Sparks. With hundreds of songs spanning an incredible 50-something-year career, the pop rock outfit formed by brothers Ron and Russell Mael has been a source of inspiration to generations of their peers such as Duran Duran, Sonic Youth and Franz Ferdinand. But who are they — and if they're so influential then why haven't more mainstream music fans heard of them?

That's the burning question director (and self-proclaimed fanboy) Edgar Wright sets out to answer in The Sparks Brothers, an in-depth and oftentimes funny documentary chronicling the life and times of the world's most obscure well-known band. From Ron and Russell's early childhood days growing up in California and the love of cinema that their father imbued in them, to the ups and downs of their musical evolution over the course of their 25 studio albums — along with their various collaborations and other artistic diversions along the way — this delightfully quirky look at what is arguably pop music's most delightfully quirky duo is a love letter to anyone who enjoys music, comedy, or just an engaging story about triumph through perseverance.

Featuring interviews with the brothers themselves, as well as the likes of Beck, Jason Schwartzman and Mike Myers, to name but a few, the result is a must-see for music documentary afficionados — a feel-good film that will spark joy in the hearts of both longtime Sparks fans and newcomers alike.

The Sparks Brothers screens under the Festival Favorites section at the 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 20 min.

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