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Good And Bad Music Films

NOTE: This list only includes movies SPECIFICALLY rrrABOUT music, or rpeople who make music, or in rrwhich music plays a rsignificant role. rFilms rwith rbackgrounds which include music/bands rbut rwhere rit's not rthe central focus of the film - rsuch as rBill & Ted ror Scott Pilgrim - were rnot rrconsidered.
1School Of Rock

GOOD. Jack Black gives perhaps his best performance outside of an animated movie in this hilarious subversion of the old "authority figure inspires kids to greatness" trope. Watching Jack yell at ten year olds for not knowing Motorhead, or said ten-year-olds debating the relative merits of Meg White's drumming, is just about the funniest music-related film experience you're likely to get.
2Rock Star

GOOD. Not even Mark Wahlberg and Jen Aniston ruin this mock-biopic about the rise and fall of a substitute singer for a famous band, which may or may not have been based on Ripper Owens. A great glam-rock soundtrack, a good balance of comic and poignant, and Zakk Wylde being Zakk Wylde make this movie worth a watch.
38 Mile

GOOD. Who'd have thought Eminem could act? Moreover, who would have thought an Eminem movie vehicle would be a realistic, grittily shot retelling of his rise to fame? 8 Mile, an honest, raw movie, was one of the biggest surprises of early millenial cinema, and is worth a viewing even if hip-hop's not your thing.
4Almost Famous

GOOD. Another straight account of life on the road, this time based on the real-life experiences of a Rolling Stone journalist as a teenager following a band around on tour. One gets the feeling everything in this film is plausible, and strong performances bring the characters to life in a similarly realistic way. Weak point - Kate Hudson vamping it up as the world's most profound groupie.
5This Is Spinal Tap

GOOD. There is a ridiculous side to rock'n'roll. Even the biggest fan of the genre has to admit that. This film understands it, and rolls with that understanding, depicting the world's worst band in a series of increasingly ludicrous - and yet, somehow, plausible - circumstances. From props that give the expression "to scale" a new meaning to fatal accident-prone drummers, forced stylistic choices for album covers, amps that go up to eleven and the infamous two-word review, this is mandatory viewing for anyone who thinks rock'n'roll is serious business.

GOOD. Who doesn't want to get their song on the radio? Even the worst band aspires to that, as proven in this early 90s comedy. Despite taking a few wilder turns later, the film remains surprisingly okay for an Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser vehicle, with neither actor being as annoying as they know how to be. Plus, there's the "Lemmy IS God" line, which is worth a watch in itself.
7The Doors

GOOD. This Oliver Stone biopic succeeds even in spite of Val Kilmer, who no one will ever take seriously, no matter how many films he does with 'real' directors. By keeping it straight and pulling no punches, Stone manages to paint a realistic, yet not exceedingly depressing, portrait of one of the most fascinating figures in 20th century music, the legendary Jim Morrison.
8High Fidelity

GOOD. Faithfully based on Nick Hornby's book of the same title (it changes only the location), this film succeeds on the back of its performances. Jack Black once again shines in a music-related film, playing everyman rock'n'roll snob Barry, while John Cusack manages to make the deeply unpleasant, selfish protagonist into a likable character, just by virtue of being, y'know, John Cusack. The result is a film nearly beyond reproach for music fans, where the only nitpick is the omission of the best scene in the book. If you own the DVD, however, it shows up in the special features, making everything right with the world again.
9The Rocker

BAD. Unfunny comedy starring a Jack Black wannabe in a School Of Rock wannabe storyline, with predictably sub-par results. The premise had potential, but the film never fulfills it.
10Last Days

BAD. Painting Nirvana singer and voice of a generation Kurt Cobain as little more than an incoherent, mumbling troglodyte, this extremely self-indulgent 'biopic' from pretentious director Gus Van Sant is nothing but a big 'fuck you' to the millions of grunge-era teenagers, which goes to the extent of depicting Cobain's (sorry, 'Blake''s) two bandmates as gay lovers. Seeing Kim Gordon show up, looking like she doesn't want to be there, is the final nail in the coffin, and any self-respecting fan will have walked out in disgust long before that point.

GOOD. Another solid biopic which hinges itself around a career-making performance by Jamie Foxx, who perfectly captures the late bluesman's tics and vocal affectations. Like 8 Mile, this is worth a watch, even if you're not a particularly big fan of the blues.
12Detroit Rock City

BAD. This teen comedy about four high-school slackers trekking to a KISS show suffers from the KISS curse, being as cheesy as everything else the band had to offer. Not quite as bad or pointless as Rock'N'Roll High School, but every bit as boring.
13Alvin And The Chipmunks

GOOD. I am probably the only person to ever like this film, but I do. The relationship between Jason Lee's Dave and his CGI 'children' is believable, and the subtle commentary about the perils of the music industry (in a kid's film, no less!) is well pulled off. Subsequent sequels had very little to do with music, but this one is actually worth an afternoon-on-TV watch. Low point - kid chipmunks singing sexually suggestive lyrics to fully grown human women. Ew.
14Camp Rock

GOOD/BAD. If you hate the Jonas Brothers or the Disney Channel, this will be a Bad for you. If you don't mind either, you may derive some enjoyment out of this formulaic, sometimes cringeworthy, but harmless empowerment vehicle for little girls.
15Raise Your Voice

GOOD/BAD. Slightly more grown-up version of Camp Rock to which pretty much the same caveats apply. Bonus points added for featuring Three Days Grace, then removed for cringeworthy, exceedingly convenient and trite plotlines. Also, Hillary Duff.

GOOD. Another solid biopic, about yet another tragic figure of rock'n'roll, Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Shot in stark, bleak black and white, to fit the band's vibe, this is another mandatory film for any rock fan.
17Music & Lyrics

??? Haven't seen it, but it's Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, so it's probably a BAD.

??? Haven't seen it, but everyone has heard of how God-awful it is. Also, Mariah Carey.
19I'm Not There

??? Heard mixed reviews about this one, intend to watch it at some point.
20Josie And The Pussycats

??? This one I actually do want to watch at some point, although it's not high in my list of priorities.
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