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Standing In The Shadows

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Standing In The Shadows

Starring: Joe Hunter, Richard Allan
Director: Paul Justman
Rated: PG
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genres: Documentary, Music

*Also starring: Johnny Griffith, Eddie Willis, Joe Messina, Uriel Jones, Bob Babbitt, Jack Ashford, Martha Reeves, Joan Osborne

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Quick, name the group who played on the most number one hit records? The Funk Brothers. To which, you are probably thinking, "The Funk Brothers? -- Who in the world are they?"

Paul Justman's marvelously entertaining and deliriously joyous documentary, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN, explains the answer to this riddle, as it tells the story of the group who played backup for almost all of the hit artists in Motown. For fourteen years, starting in 1959, the Funk Brothers played accompaniment to Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes and Stevie Wonder, among others.

The movie is both a concert film and a traditional documentary complete with talking heads and archival footage. The stories the Funk Brothers -- a large group that even included a few whites -- tell are fascinating, but don't be surprised if you are like me. As soon as they would talk for a few minutes, I wanted them to stop and play some more. Fortunately the musical numbers are many and uncut. For these numbers they use some wonderful new singers to provide the foreground to their work.

In contrast to today's angry rap music, the Motown songs are so much more upbeat and life-affirming. If you have any interest whatsoever in Motown music, you are going to adore STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN.

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN runs 1:48. It is rated PG for "language and thematic elements" and would be acceptable for kids of all ages.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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