The Sparks Brothers: The Sonic Iconoclasts Have Landed!

The documentary is a artistic embrace to fans and musicologists of pop culture icons that traverses a storied career.

Arts Movies & Television Triston Brewer

This article was published on June 14th, 2021

Edgar Wright has always been an enigmatic filmmaker known for going where few would dare, and each release from his mind into the zeitgeist is inevitably a moment in time to be cherished if only for its arrival. His worlds have juggled the intricacies of frivolity, synergy, and whimsy – genres that are far too often overlooked in the current landscape. It is only fitting that Wright’s first documentary intricately breaks down the career of art duo pop Sparks, an alternative band that has never seen a line it wouldn’t cross. 

00001_SparksBrothers Brothers Russell and Ron Mael from director Edgar Wright’s film THE SPARKS BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jake Polonsky / Focus Features

One of the questions seemingly posed throughout the documentary is how a group so successful and influential be easily forgotten in the grand scheme of mainstream media? In The Sparks Brothers, viewers are taken on a wild ride across five decades following the antics and mayhem of the brothers as well as band members Ron and Russel Mael. The movie delves into how the band has influenced the careers of some of today’s biggest musical acts in the world. 

Sparks_By_Anna_Webber_9 c Ron Mael and Russell Mael star in Edgar Wright’s documentary THE SPARKS BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Anna Webber / Focus Features

No one should expect a direct path from an Edgar Wright production and there isn’t one here – the structure is a cornucopia of visual gymnastics that incorporate 2D animation, stop motion, kitschy graphics, re-enactment videos, and more. As a long form documentary, it moves at a quick pace fueled by comedic moments. The enigma of the film lies in the juxtaposition of the group – although they are not considered mainstream successes, they are without a shadow of a doubt cultural behemoths that planted the seeds from which other artists proudly acknowledge. 

Edgar RR Cafe hero (l to r.) Russell Mael, director Edgar Wright and Ron Mael from their film THE SPARKS BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jake Polonsky / Focus Features

Regarded as true music pioneers, the duo have been praised by many contemporaries, including Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Jonathan Ross, and more. Sparks are elusive and fly under the radar by design, but what the documentary makes abundantly clear is that they are no less motivated and intrigued about the musical process from start to finish. 

And for those not in the know?

Sparks is an international act that has released more than 25 albums since their first album in 1972. After relocating to the UK from Los Angeles in 1974, Sparks released the critically acclaimed Kimono My House, which launched the duo towards becoming a worldwide phenomenon and leaving an indelible impact on the recording industry and through their live performances. 

Sparks-2020-B-W-PhotoByAnnaWebber Brothers Ron and Russell Mael in director Edgar Wright’s film THE SPARKS BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Anna Webber / Focus Features

The Sparks Brothers is a film that serves as a love affair between artists and their muses – the fans – and the many unchartered paths they took along the way that defined their creative destiny. With five decades and counting, Sparks shows no signs of slowing down.

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