Near the end of Edgar Wright’s delightful documentary “The Sparks Brothers,” a loving, lighthearted tribute to the 50-plus years that brothers Ron and Russell Mael have spent making some of the best music you’ve probably never heard, Amy Sherman-Palladino comes on and starts talking about the brothers’ mystique, saying that they’ve given us the music and that’s all we need.
And it hits me for the first time: I’ve spent more than two hours watching a documentary that has revealed little to nothing about its subjects’ personal lives … and I don’t care! I don’t need to know whether Ron and Russell have ever been married. (As of 2008, apparently not.) I don’t need Ron to expound whether he was jealous when Russell got all the girls, including, briefly, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s. How did Ron feel about all those Hitler mustache comments? Did Russell want him to shave it off? Uncharted territory.
What Wright does explore, in detail, is the band’s musical legacy, 25 (mostly) glorious albums ranging from art-pop to anti-pop, synth-powered dance-pop, glam bubblegum, new wave and odd orchestral, the only constants being a skewed wit and constant reinvention.