Baby Driver (2017) director Edgar Wright makes his documentary debut with The Sparks Brothers, focusing on the American pop-rock band, Sparks.
Sparks have had a career that spans over 50 years and 25 studio albums. A group that’s thought of as “your favourite band’s favourite band”. They are a group that most of today’s generation won’t know, and they probably have had a hand in a record that you may love. From synth-pop to post-punk, from new wave to alternative, they have made their way through different genres and sub-genres. Sparks have inspired bands and artists like Nirvana, Beck, Pet Shop Boys, and New Order.
The band consists of brothers Ron and Russell, who grew up in 1960s Los Angeles listening to pop and bubble-gum pop music until the spotlight of a school talent show illuminated their way into a musical career. This documentary film uses different trinkets and styles to showcase the five decades that Sparks have been around. Edgar Wright uses various animations, straight to the lens interviews, and stock footage to tell the band’s stories. What is a music documentary without its fanatic commentators? The Sparks Brothers features a great range of commentators like Duran Duran, Jason Schwartzman, Fred Armisen, Flea, Thurston Moore, etc.
How Wright formulates his film showcases the band’s artistic brilliance and their unique weirdness. It shows how they grew and evolved musically, how they reinvented their sound album after album and record after record. Their regular style changes are admirable; not many artists could constantly change their tone and techniques and still deliver a superb body of work. The Sparks Brothers has quite a long runtime, yet you end up wanting to learn more about the band. Whether you are a fan or not, you will end up being enriched by the band’s legendary history, well-crafted and stylized by Edgar Wright.
The Sparks Brothers flourishes with great delight from start to finish. Although it is not a deep dive into their entire career, each subject that Wright touches on is with resounding acclaim and admiration. You see and feel the appreciation that he has for them with how he handles the film. The only thing that could have made this work better is the addition of Ron and Russell’s lives outside of the famous band and showcase their lives as individuals.
The Sparks Brothers truly delivers great moments with exciting interviews, well-crafted directing techniques, and genuinely great music. Edgar Wright’s documentary debut gets you wanting more of Sparks, and that is the best compliment one can give about a music documentary.
Mike Myers is interviewed in this documentary. In Edgar Wright’s previous film, Baby Driver (2017) a gag is made as one bank robber misinterprets “Michael Myers masks” (i.e. the killer from Halloween (1978)) as “Mike Myers masks”, specifically masks made off the face of Austin Powers. Wright called Myers and asked permission to make the joke and Myers readily accepted.