Only the Strong Survive

"OK"

Only the Strong Survive Review


Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker have crafted some of cinema's most impressive documentaries -- especially their musical documentaries like Monterey Pop -- but their look back at the titans of the soul genre comes off as flat and, frankly, lazy.

There's not a lot of setup for why this film is made -- though the half-assed reunion concert that concludes the brisk film comes off as even sillier than the one in Standing in the Shadows of Motown. In the beginning, our narrators state simply that they wonder what happened to pioneering soul singers like Wilson Pickett, Rufus Thomas, Jerry Butler, and The Chi-Lites. Turns out there's not a lot of mystery to it; they're still alive and kicking, and judging from the footage in the film, they're doing a lot of radio appearances. The exception is Isaac Hayes, who would go on to renewed fame by voicing the role of "Chef" on the South Park TV show -- and in fact it's Hayes that gets more screen time here than any of his compatriots.

With low-end digital videocameras and hit-and-run interviews, Only the Strong Survive is a real budget affair, giving you the impression of a movie that was dashed off over the weekend and slapped together on an iMac. The truth is buried in the backstory: Producer (and journalist) Roger Friedman enlisted the veteran directors to make this ode to soul on his behalf. Friedman tags along to do the interviewing; if his writing is anything like the softball drivel he throws at Mary Wilson and Sam Moore, it doesn't deserve to be read. By the end you get the feeling that Hegedus and Pennebaker couldn't care less about soul music. (Friedman makes up for some of this with the DVD release, which is crammed with bonus footage and extra videos, plus a commentary track from the subjects of the documentary.)

The highlight of any music-oriented documentary is invariably the music, and Only the Strong Survive succeeds mildly in giving us a few warmed-over hits, performed by their stars. You'll get an equal experience by listening to any R&B radio station or by trotting yourself out to Vegas to catch one of these performers in a revival show. And if you do that, you won't have to sit through Friedman fawning incessantly over their greatness.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th August 2003

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 17

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Himself, as Herself, as Himself, as Himself, as Herself, as Himself, as Himself, Jaye Michael Davis as Himself, Don Bryant as Himself, as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

Advertisement
The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.