This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I had a free Redbox rental code and decided to start the 2013 DVD Talk Academy Awards Challenge with this Best Documentary nominee. I'd heard some good buzz from some online pals, so I went into it hopeful though I knew nothing of it other than its title since I didn't even bother to read the Redbox synopsis. In fact, I wasn't even sure offhand whether it was a nominee for Documentary or Foreign Language Film, to be honest.
The story itself, of a forgotten, obscure recording artist who never knew he was a giant in South Africa, is intriguing. In fact, at several points I was tempted to interrupt my viewing by going online to verify whether this was a true documentary or an Exit Through the Gift Shop-style mockumentary.
Rodriguez's songs have a great sound to them, though there is a sort of tonal monotony to those played throughout this film. Still, I admit I've already decided I want to add some of his music to my library and I'll be scouring Amazon after I write this review. "I Wonder" has a sort of hypnotic quality and I'd love to hear it in its entirety. "Sugar Man" is a fun-sounding ode to a drug dealer and the fact that's how I can best think to characterize it alone justifies adding it to my library.
The problem I have with Searching for Sugar Man is that it drags too much. I found myself checking the timer on the Blu-ray player to see how far into the doc I was. The detective legwork segments interested me, as did several of the interviews themselves, but I just felt like I spent too much of the first hour waiting for the film to catch up with itself.
I think that's because the doc opens with nearly 15 minutes about Rodriguez and his life in Detroit, so I knew for most of the first hour what was being tracked down and discovered. It's hardly my place to tell an Academy Award nominee how his film ought to have been structured, but by starting in Detroit I was bored by the floundering of the interviewees searching for what I'd been told already.
Still, Rodriguez's is an intriguing story and Searching for Sugar Man is a decent telling of it.
How Searching for Sugar Man Entered My Flickchart
Searching for Sugar Man < Galaxy Quest --> #1460
I'm more interested in Rodriguez's unlikely story, but more entertained by Alan Rickman complaining for an hour and a half.
Searching for Sugar Man > Holiday Inn --> #1102
I dig the premise of Holiday Inn and some of its song and dance bits, but on the whole it fell flat for me. Searching for Sugar Man drags too much early but it's pretty satisfying by its end.
Searching for Sugar Man < The Bells of St. Mary's --> #1102
I want to pick Searching for Sugar Man, I really do. Unfortunately, I'm too smitten with Ingrid Bergman and I adore watching her teach that kid about playing baseball.
Searching for Sugar Man > High Fidelity --> #1010
Some of my friends practically worship at the altar of High Fidelity and I get its appeal, but I was left with a bit of a "Yeah, so?" feeling by its end. Not so with Searching for Sugar Man, which left me with a "That's neat!" feeling.
Searching for Sugar Man > Moonraker --> #964
Oh, Moonraker. Sometimes I feel bad about how often you lose to other movies on Flickchart. But then I remember how disappointing you are and you deserve to lose.
Searching for Sugar Man > Diabolique (1996) --> #941
Diabolique will always be kind of special to me for being one of the first movies I went to see by myself. Alas, that's really all it has going for it, and that's not enough to win against Searching for Sugar Man.
Searching for Sugar Man < A.I. Artificial Intelligence --> #941
I haven't seen A.I. since it opened in theaters, but it's high on my To Watch Again list. I'm more intrigued by it than I was by Searching for Sugar Man, though I think A.I. could have used some Rodriguez music.
Searching for Sugar Man < Casino Royale (1954) --> #941
Yes, Rodriguez's remarkable story is fascinating and all, but I'm a big Bond fan and I dig Peter Lorre. Peter Lorre as a Bond villain? That's gold!
Searching for Sugar Man > Guess Who --> #938
I'd be much more apt to re-watch Guess Who (Bernie Mac, I miss ya!), but I feel better for having seen Searching for Sugar Man.
Searching for Sugar Man > Vertigo --> #937
I have problems with both of these, but on the whole I found Searching for Sugar Man more rewarding.
Searching for Sugar Man > Eleventh Hour --> #936
I always get a kick out of wartime propaganda, especially when it involves a character I love like Superman, but Eleventh Hour isn't as intriguing as Searching for Sugar Man.
Searching for Sugar Man entered my Flickchart at #936/1469