Review: ZZ TOP: THAT LITTLE OL’ BAND FROM TEXAS Is A Straightforward But Admirable Music Doc

FIRST IMPRESSION

ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band from Texas is a straightforward music documentary, but it is nonetheless a compelling rags-to-riches story about great musicians.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas is a new documentary film telling the story of the eponymous rock band with a particular focus on their early years as they cemented themselves as one of the definitive names in music. On this, the year of the band’s fiftieth anniversary, this movie serves as a great tribute to a band of whom most of us are likely fans.

In a way, this film offers the perfect rags-to-riches story. ZZ Top, which is now perhaps one of the world’s most well-known rock bands, struggling to sign with a record label in their first few years. Audiences, particularly those who are a fan of the group’s music, will hopefully see their success story and the hard work they put into it and be inspired to persevere towards their own dreams.

The movie clocks in at right around an hour and thirty minutes, which is a good length for a music documentary. Because of the brisk run time, the film is mostly entertaining, even if it doesn’t do anything to stand out from other music documentaries. Although someone who isn’t a fan of the music may have a harder time connecting with the movie, the more broad rags-to-riches story is likely to still be compelling.

A few humorous anecdotes will also help to maintain the interest of the audience. Granted, these are little more than anecdotes and are unlikely to contain much information that is revelatory or even particularly unknown to the most devoted of ZZ Top fans, but the way in which these stories are told is always entertaining.

zz top performance

However, the film doesn’t do quite as good of a job at developing the members of the band on an individual level. Most audience members will connect with them as a group due to being a fan of their music. Still, it would have been nice to get more insight into their personal lives and learn about them as people. As is, this movie does come across as a bit too hollow for its own good.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a documentary about ZZ Top if it didn’t feature their music, and the film does a good job of showcasing some of their best songs. Many of their hits make an appearance in the movie, whether to underscore the storytelling or as a part of a performance that was recorded especially for this documentary. As a result, if nothing else, this film offers the chance to listen to an hour and thirty minutes of old-school rock.

The storytelling methods used in the movie are traditional, with a focus on archive materials, interviews, and the performance footage, but the film works regardless. Had there been a bit more flair in the editing, perhaps the movie could have felt much more unique. That said, the visuals of the film, particularly the cinematography, are more ambitious than that of most music documentaries.

If you are a fan of ZZ Top and their music, then ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas is a documentary you won’t want to miss. But if you aren’t a fan, there is still plenty to admire about this rags-to-riches music story.

ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas hits theaters on August 13.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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