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Cadillac Records Review Critics


Dave White Profile

...should have been a documentary Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The film features too little about Berry (an engaging Mos Def), who crosses over to great fame.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Cadillac Records may be a mess dramatically, but it's a wonderful mess, and not just because of the great music. The people who made it must have harbored the notion, almost subversive in a season of so many depressing films, that going out to the movies should be fun.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Cadillac Records is an account of the Chess story that depends more on music than history, which is perhaps as it should be. The film is a fascinating record of the evolution of a black musical style, and the tangled motives of the white men who had an instinct for it.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    In watching this film, it's best not to worry much about the film's fidelity to history but rather simply lean back and enjoy one great jam session on film.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's an enjoyable ramble, with a feel for what made the early days of rock as wild as any that followed.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Terrific performances make mature musical biopic memorable.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this biopic about several blues musicians co-stars teen favorite Beyonce Knowles but is much grittier than her thematically similar Dreamgirls. Although Adrien Brody and Jeffrey Wright are the top-billed actors, Beyonce's role has been played up to attract younger audiences. Like most musician biopics, the drama portrays performers dealing with sex, drugs, violence, and fame. Strong language is frequent (primarily the "mother" of all swear words), and there are many scenes of musicians sleeping with eager groupies. Almost everyone has a drinking problem, and two characters are drug users -- one has a disturbing overdose scene. Consumerism is limited to the titular Cadillacs, which are a pivotal aspect of the story.

  • Families can talk about the film's messages about the entertainment industry. How do the characters change when fame arrives? Also, how does racism figures in depictions of early rock 'n' roll? How did Muddy Waters' music -- and later Chuck Berry -- affect the division between "race music" and "mainstream" music? Was Chess Records' founder exploiting the African-American musicians who made him rich, or was he an open-minded creative producer willing to buck racial norms? (Or both?) Sex, drugs/alcohol, and violence followed most of the blues artists; why do you think the musicians struggled with all these vices?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Racism is addressed as being complicated and difficult to overcome. It's obvious in the segregated South and in the way that Etta James' alleged father treats her, but it's subtler in the way Chuck Berry is arrested and how Leonard occasionally patronizes his signed musicians. Additionally, characters commit adultery, drink to excess, take drugs, and act violently.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Several scenes of violence, including gun violence; driving under the influence and crashing; police brutality; and a bloody, fatal beating.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The male characters tend to be womanizers who have multiple (and usually extramarital) affairs. Women are shown half-naked, skimpily dressed, and about to engage in group sex. Lots of passionate kissing and going into hotel rooms. In one brief scene, we see a woman lowering her head in a restaurant, obviously to perform oral sex.

  • language false4

    Language: Strong and frequent: "Motherf--ker" is the word of choice, with "f--k" and "s--t" a close second and third.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: As if the title doesn't give it away, there are lots of Cadillacs in the film -- every major character has more than one. Pepsi is also mentioned/shown, as is Billboard magazine.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false5

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Most of the characters drink, and several drink excessively. At least two musicians are also drug addicts. Etta James is shown overdosing on heroin, lying unconscious next to a needle, with tracks on her arms. All "users" are adults.