Sundance #8: “The Sparks Brothers” Will Light a Spark Inside You
Being a big fan of music and most importantly, art pop, I had been familiar with Sparks Brothers prior to watching this documentary. Yet, they weren’t a band I was too familiar with, only listening to a couple of albums but enjoying what I heard. I’ve been a big fan of Edgar Wright for a while. He has over time become an icon for film enthusiasts over time because he is a big fan of cult films and he has also made some of the most recognizable cult classic films of the last twenty years with his Cornetto Trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. His last film, Baby Driver, broke the mainstream and became a blockbuster hit, crossing the 100 million mark at the box office.
After making his biggest hit ever, Edgar Wright decided to strip down and create a documentary based off his favorite band of all time, The Sparks. Thankfully, Wright was able to make this film to spread the word of one of the most influential and imaginative musical groups to ever hit the radio. Yet, their recognition seems to be very minimal in the mainstream. I can now see film enthusiasts like myself gravitating to this band, and for good reason.
Wright was able to interview a lot of his friends and some of the names that pop up in the documentary are surprising, including but not limited to the likes of Mike Meyers, Jason Schwartzman and Weird Al Yankovich. The film has a difficult task in describing the history of The Sparks band and all of their albums. The band’s story has been misconstrued several times in the past. A lot of people actually believe the Sparks was a British band because of their popularity in the United Kingdom, but they clear up in the documentary that this is not the case. Likewise, they also have to explore all twenty five albums they’ve made. This is a daunting task, but Edgar Wright explores all of them with detail and craft. The film is two hours and fifteen minutes and some may argue that this might be a tad bit too long. However, I think it is admirable that he took his time delivering the full story, and as a result was able to give every album the spotlight they deserved. Edgar Wright’s frenetic editing and energy found in his entire filmography is present in The Sparks Brothers documentary. You can feel his direction throughout this film, and that helps make the documentary feel wholly unique, when it could very easily feel like a slog at times. It has so much personality and is unlike any other documentary I’ve ever seen. I’d go as far to say this is the most visually and conceptually interesting blockbuster since 2018’s masterpiece Won’t You Be My Neighbor. By the end you will feel like you were around to see an entire career and the coolest thing is that they are still around making music. The band is currently writing the music for an upcoming musical starring Adam Driver, and let’s just say, I’ll be there day one. This movie rules and was some of the most fun you could have at Sundance this year.
Brett Schutt is the founder of Toybox’d. This is a website where he and other contributors write editorials, host podcasts and create short films freely. It’s discourse that’s fun. His Sundance coverage is freelancing for Buffed Film Buffs. You can find more from Brett at www.toyboxd.com.