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The Beach Boys ★★★★



Released: 24th May 2024

Director: Frank Marshall/Thom Zimny

The Beach Boys’ story is far from an obscure one, the Wilson siblings, along with Al Jardine and Mike Love helped revolutionise American pop music in the 60s with their distinctive Californian summer sound. Iconic producer/director Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny, now bring us a new documentary that charts the band’s 60+ year career covering their origins, rise to superstardom and internal disputes. Containing previously unseen footage, which is sure to be gold dust for fans.

The film will likely strike a good balance for those perhaps less familiar with the group beyond their hits and die-hard fans. There is an eclectic mix of talking heads including One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac and Janelle Monáe, interspersed with interviews with Al Jardine and Mike Love and archive footage of the rest of the band Paul McCartney. The Beatles and Beach Boys were a big influence on each other, which is clearly reflected here.

What this film does well is balancing the viewpoints of the different band members, the common perception is perhaps that Brian Wilson is the driving force behind the band’s creativity and success, here we get a sense of the involvement of other band members and how the band’s creative process evolved over the years as Brian shied away from touring to focus on studio work. Love’s and Wilson’s perspectives on songwriting credits is intriguing and captures the frosty dynamic of their later years.

As he did with his Bee Gees documentary, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart, Marshall gets to the heart of the men behind the music and how success affected them in different ways as Brian struggled with various addictions, while the other band members enjoyed fame to varying degrees. There may not be anything wholly new but it is a celebration of their music and how vibrant it sounds to this day.

This documentary feels surprisingly comprehensive for under 2 hours, rather than simply regurgitating previously told stories, it feels fresh with something to say, alongside being reflective and celebratory with the involvement of the whole band offering some intriguing perspectives on well-known events within their career. This will make a good companion viewing with Long Promised Road about Brian Wilson from 2022 and 2014’s Love & Mercy. Over 60 years on from their formation, The Beach Boys continue to have a profound impact on popular music and that is more than reflected here.

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