Cadillac Records 2008

Cadillac Records

Critics Consensus

What Cadillac Records may lack in originality, it more than makes up for in strong performances and soul-stirring music.

67%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 123

65%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 63,236

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Movie Info

In 1947 Chicago, Polish emigrant and bar owner Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) hires a blues combo that includes guitarist Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and harmonica player Little Walter (Columbus Short). Waters' and Walter's success leads to Chess' management of stars Etta James (Beyoncé Knowles), Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker), Chuck Berry (Mos Def) and others. Inevitably, business and personal lines blur as the sometimes-turbulent lives of the musicians play out.

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Critic Reviews for Cadillac Records

All Critics (123) | Top Critics (53) | Fresh (82) | Rotten (41)

  • Quote not available.

    November 18, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The music is good, the suits are sharp, but it's the outstanding performances that wow. Walker is electrifying as Howlin' Wolf and Beyoncé - playing Etta James - has never been so sultry and sexy.

    February 26, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Perhaps there were insurmountable legal restrictions. But the movie still serves as a dandy primer for rediscovering a lot of great music.

    February 20, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Anyone who likes pop music or wonders how bands like the Rolling Stones got rolling will enjoy the ride.

    February 20, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • Sadly the movie conforms to all the music-biopic stereotypes we've seen in Walk the Line, Ray and Dreamgirls.

    February 20, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The music is great, so energetic and vital it leaves the drama looking unfocused in comparison. Beyoncé, singing her heart out, is the pick of a very impressive line-up.

    February 20, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cadillac Records

  • Aug 12, 2012
    A white record producer signs African-American musicians, and together the foundations of rock n roll are formed. I suppose the lesson of this biopic is that when one isn't racist in a racist world, one stands to benefit. That is the only discernible advantage that Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) has over others, yet we don't know enough about Chess or why he is as he is. A commonality among these characters is their penchant for extramarital sex, but Chuck Berry's prison sentence notwithstanding, this behavior doesn't make a plot-driving point or a matter of serious conflict. In the end, Cadillac Records is a music film, with the race relations subplot only tangential, so whether or not you like this film with depend upon whether you like the musical performances by Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, and Beyonce Knowles as Etta James. I thought they were good, but I'm not a great judge. Overall, the plot of this film doesn't do a lot - an odd combination of social commentary about 50s race relations and interpersonal affairs - but those of you who like the origins of rock n roll might find the performances, if not the story, compelling.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 13, 2011
    This is a thoroughly enjoyable, though heavy fictionalized film about the story of Leonard Chess and Chess Records- the legendary and influential man and label responsible for creating the "electric" blues scene in Chicago from the early 1940s-late 1960s. It's a story that definitely is worthy of being told cinematically. As it turns out, this film isn't the only one to tackle this subject, though I am unfamiliar with the other versions. All in all, this is a pretty decent film, and, as I opened this review with, it is quite entertaining. It's not a musicla per se, but musical performances do make up a good chunk of the running time. Besides providing the story for Leonard, his label, and some of the people who recorded for him (and what a lineup it was!), the film does also give insight into the racial tensions of the era and the legacy of the blues, R&B, and soul. Even though it addresses these things, I could have used a stronger analysis and more depth here, as well as a more accurate portrayal of the characters and the history, but that's just the nitpicking historian in me. There is a fair issues for me with this film, and that is, even though the film has a good story, the script isn't really all that original or great, and the direction, though okay, isn't really all that distinct or remarkable. Thankfully though, things are saved (and pretty much carried) by the great casting and the wonderful performances by said cast, and the excellent music and musical performances. Here's the lineup to prove my point: Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Beyonce Knowles as Etta James, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, and Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf, and that's just for starters. As great as these people are, and as much as I loved their work (especially Brody, Wright, Knowles, and Def) I also really loved Norman Reedus in a supporting role as the engineer at the studio. It's not a big or really significant role, but he does a good job, and I think he's just in general a solid actor who deserves more work. All in all, this could have been a better work, but it's a decent enough overview and introduction to a great moment in music history, despite the flaws. If you happen to like anyone in the cast, dig the blues, or want to know more about any of this stuff, then give this one a watch.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2011
    On the plus side you have an excellent cast, with a script that excels in its' dialogue and authenticity. At the same time, there are a lot of clichés, and the story attempts to bite off more than it can chew, sometimes giving it a disjointed feel. Still, an entertaining and informative piece.
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 02, 2010
    the story of cadillac records, in chicago, where acts like chuck berry not only made the company but were pioneers in rocknroll, adrian brody is the record boss in control, a well told story, giving a piece of history, from there early days to acts getting in on the act and stealing there thunder, a interesting sence of history
    scott g Super Reviewer

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