Everybody loves a good band movie. Like the ragtag sports-team genre, there’s something irresistible about watching a group of disparate characters come together to make music. The following five titles are the best of the best in the band-movie genre:
1. 'The Commitments' (1991)
Nominated for a handful of awards and named the best Irish film of all time by Jameson Irish Whiskey, The Commitments tells the rollicking story of a young Dubliner who attempts to start a soul band comprised of working-class singers and musicians. The Commitments features an irresistible, feel-good storyline that’s heightened by the musical performances, as the title band offers up spot-on covers of such classics as “Mustang Sally,” “Try A Little Tenderness,” and “Chain of Fools.”
Best line: “There's a lot of different music you can get off on, but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the s---.”
2. 'This Is Spinal Tap' (1984)
This Is Spinal Tap details the exploits of a fading heavy-metal band called Spinal Tap, as faux filmmaker Martin DeBergi (Rob Reiner) follows the group’s three core members, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and Derick Smalls (Harry Shearer), as they attempt to launch a full-scale comeback. The movie, which marked Reiner’s debut as director, remains one of the best and most critically-acclaimed entries in the mockumentary genre, with the screenplay, written by Reiner and his stars, skewering and satirizing many of the clichés and conventions associated with the music business.
Best line: “These go to eleven.”
For the most part, School of Rock is an easygoing comedy about a slack (Jack Black’s Dewey Finn) who pretends to be a teacher at an exclusive prep school. But as the movie progresses, Black’s character assembles a bona fide rock band out of several of his students – with the film eventually building towards a pivotal “battle of the bands” competition. Armed with Black’s impressively energetic performance, School of Rock becomes a movie that, as Roger Ebert noted in his review, “proves you can make a family film that's alive and well-acted and smart and perceptive and funny -- and that rocks.”
Best line: “If you want to rock, you’ve got to break the rules. You’ve got to get mad at the man!”
4. 'That Thing You Do!' (1996)
Written and directed by Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! tracks the ups and downs of a fictional 1960s band called The Wonders – with the group’s early success eventually resulting in friction among its individual members (including Tom Everett Scott’s Guy and Steve Zahn’s Lenny). Hanks’ obvious passion for the subject matter is in complete evidence from start to finish, as the first-time filmmaker has suffused every frame with an authenticity that proves impossible to resist – with the title track so catchy and so memorable that it’s virtually impossible to walk away from the film without humming it.
Best line: “I've found that a hit record is like a stew. All the ingredients have to come together just right. Otherwise, it's just soup.”
5. 'Brassed Off' (1996)
Brassed Off is a feel-good drama about one man’s efforts at keeping a decades-old brass band together, with the story unfolding in a small town that’s attempting to cope with the impending closure of its most profitable business. With a cast that includes Pete Postlethwaite and Ewan McGregor, Brassed Off does an excellent job of portraying the camaraderie between the aforementioned band members – with the soundtrack containing such old standards as “Danny Boy” and “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Best line: “The truth is I thought it mattered. I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter.”