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Standing In The Shadows of Motown (2002)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 90
Fresh: 83 | Rotten: 7

A toe-tapping tribute to the band that gave Motown its sound.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 2

A toe-tapping tribute to the band that gave Motown its sound.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 3,119

My Rating

Movie Info

In 1959, Berry Gordy gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on "My Girl," "Bernadette," I Was Made to Love Her," and every other hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the

Apr 22, 2003


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All Critics (100) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (7) | DVD (25)

The Funk Brothers seem to have hardly missed a beat.

December 27, 2002
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
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There have been better documentaries to come out this year, but none can touch this one for unadulterated pleasure.

December 19, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
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I promise, you'll never listen to a Motown classic in the same way ever again.

November 29, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The documentary stumbles where it could have soared.

November 28, 2002
Arizona Republic
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Try as you might to resist, if you've got a place in your heart for Smokey Robinson, this movie will worm its way there.

November 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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You may not end up dancing in the street, but don't be surprised if you cut a step or two in the parking lot.

November 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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may not be the most creative of documentaries, but it's certainly an essential one that all music lovers should see and hear

January 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

A beautiful portrait of true music artists that never got their due.

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Even after decades of performing the same songs, the energy never flags.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The brothers missed out on glory back in the day, but I can't help but think that this cinematic labour of love (fourteen years in the making) will make these guys finally feel what they were missing.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

The feel-good documentary of the year, featuring the irresistible 1960s music that made Detroit famous.

February 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

The cheap and easy recycling of old myths and superficial treatment given the significant social milieu of the time is startling.

August 31, 2003 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

...guaranteed to turn Motown neophytes into fans.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

An immensely entertaining look at some of the unsung heroes of 20th century pop music.

March 18, 2003 Full Review

Like some of the poppier Hitsville U.S.A. songs, the film is a little too slick and a little too warm-and-fuzzy... but it is always engrossing and enjoyable...

March 17, 2003
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Unsung heroes of some of pop music's finest moments get to stand up and be counted in this documentary/concert/tribute.

February 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Netflix

The combination of restored history, great music and rich anecdotes make Standing in the Shadows sublime entertainment.

January 24, 2003
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Standing in the Shadows of Motown takes one of the great unknown stories in music history and translates it to the screen in the blandest way possible.

January 19, 2003
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Fans of all types of popular music will find it irreplaceable.

January 11, 2003 Full Review Source:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown is the best kind of documentary, one that makes a depleted yesterday feel very much like a brand-new tomorrow.

January 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Dallas Observer
Dallas Observer

If you love the music, and I do, its hard to imagine having more fun watching a documentary ...

January 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Hot Button
Hot Button

...the music - the sweet soul music - is national treasure.

January 3, 2003 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

The real star of this movie is the music. It makes you want to get up and dance in the aisles.

December 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A loving tribute to the forgotten legends of Motown.

December 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

If anything, the film is doing something of a public service -- shedding light on a group of extremely talented musicians who might otherwise go unnoticed and underappreciated by music fans.

December 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for Standing In The Shadows of Motown

Great: hearing the original Motown musicians play together and tell stories. Not great: fleeting-popularity guest singers like Joan Osborne, Ben Harper, Meshell Ndegeocello and Gerald Levert (not to mention a lot of ugly perms) that make the film seem badly dated just 10 years later. The occasional use of acted recreations is another dubious -- and unnecessary -- choice.
June 10, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

A great exploration of the performers who don't get the measure of credit that they should - the background players. This is the story of those who can be heard on the hits but are lost in the credits. Very gifted and talented. I'm glad their story is told.
October 19, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Fantastic documentary about a group of unknown musicians, self-named The Funk brothers who were the musical force behind so many of the Motown classics; partnering Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson... name a hit, and chances are, they were playing on it. Narrated by Andre Braugher, the film for the most part keeps him in the background and lets the musicians speak for themselves, and they do in a series of gentle stories and anecdotes. mixed with sadness about the musicians they lost along the way. The reminiscing is interleaved with a recent reunion concert where, if you weren't convinced so far, they prove once again that their contribution to the Motown sound was priceless. If you're a fan of the music already, this is a must-see.
November 25, 2009
Lesley N

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2008
Leo L

Super Reviewer

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  • Motown : la véritable histoire (FR)
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