What Are the Top Movies About Fictional Bands?

These Films Are All About the Music

The history of music is filled with colorful characters, which lends well to fictional takes on the often-crazy world of musicians. Like the ragtag sports-team genre, there’s something irresistible about watching a group of disparate characters come together to make music -- and the more disparate, the better! The following five films are the best movies about bands and cover a variety of genres depending on how serious -- or silly -- you want your music to be.

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The Commitments (1991)

The Commitments
20th Century Fox

Nominated for a handful of awards and named the best Irish film of all time by none other than Jameson Irish Whiskey, The Commitments tells the rollicking story of a young Dubliner who attempts to start a soul band comprised of working-class singers and musicians. The Commitments features an irresistible, feel-good storyline that’s heightened by the fantastic musical performances, as the title band offers up spot-on covers of such classics as “Mustang Sally,” “Try A Little Tenderness,” and “Chain of Fools.”

Best line: “There's a lot of different music you can get off on, but soul is more than that. It takes you somewhere else. It grabs you by the balls and lifts you above the s---.”

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This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

This Is Spinal Tap
Embassy Pictures

This Is Spinal Tap details the ups and downs -- mostly downs -- of a fading heavy-metal band called Spinal Tap, as faux filmmaker Martin DeBergi (Rob Reiner) follows the group’s three core members, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), as they attempt to launch a comeback tour. The movie, which was Reiner’s debut as director, remains one of the best and most critically-acclaimed entries in the mockumentary genre. The screenplay, written by Reiner and his stars, skewers and satirizes many of the clichés and conventions associated with the music business and heavy metal.

Best line: Too many to name, but the enduring classic is “These go to eleven.” IMDb even rates This Is Spinal Tap out of 11 in tribute.

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School of Rock (2003)

School of Rock
Paramount Pictures

For the most part, is an easygoing comedy about a slack (Jack Black’s Dewey Finn) who pretends to be a teacher at an exclusive prep school. But as the movie progresses, Black’s character assembles a bona fide rock band out of several of his students – with the film eventually building towards a pivotal “battle of the bands” competition. Armed with Black’s impressively energetic performance, School of Rock becomes a movie that is as musically impressive as it is funny. The movie has since been adapted into a successful Broadway musical.

Best line: “If you want to rock, you’ve got to break the rules. You’ve got to get mad at the man!”

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That Thing You Do! (1996)

That Thing You Do!
20th Century Fox

Written and directed by Tom Hanks, That Thing You Do! follows a fictional 1960s band called The Wonders. The group’s early success eventually results in friction among its individual members (including Tom Everett Scott’s Guy and Steve Zahn’s Lenny). Hanks’ obvious passion for the subject matter is obvious from start to finish, as the first-time filmmaker filled every frame with an authenticity that proves impossible to resist. The title track is so catchy and so memorable that it’s virtually impossible to walk away from the film without humming it. In fact, it even became a minor hit in real life -- reaching #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #22 on the UK Singles Chart.

Best line: “I've found that a hit record is like a stew. All the ingredients have to come together just right. Otherwise, it's just soup.”

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Brassed Off (1996)

Brassed Off

Brassed Off is a feel-good drama about one man’s efforts at keeping a decades-old brass band together. The story unfolds in a small town that’s attempting to cope with the impending closure of its most profitable business. With a cast that includes Pete Postlethwaite and Ewan McGregor, Brassed Off does an excellent job of portraying the camaraderie between the aforementioned band members. The soundtrack contains old standards that are familiar to all audiences, including “Danny Boy” and “Pomp and Circumstance.”

Best line: “The truth is I thought it mattered. I thought that music mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter.”

Edited by Christopher McKittrick

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Nusair, David. "What Are the Top Movies About Fictional Bands?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-are-the-top-movies-about-fictional-bands-2432000. Nusair, David. (2016, August 9). What Are the Top Movies About Fictional Bands? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-the-top-movies-about-fictional-bands-2432000 Nusair, David. "What Are the Top Movies About Fictional Bands?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-the-top-movies-about-fictional-bands-2432000 (accessed November 20, 2017).