Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

Searching for Sugar Man 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.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    A musical detective story, this enthralling documentary focuses on a little-known American musician whose haunting voice and poetic lyrics were essentially unknown in his own country, but had a massive impact across the globe.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The information they eventually dislodge about Rodriguez suggests a secular saint, a deeply good man, whose music is the expression of a blessed inner being. I hope you're able to see this film. You deserve to. And yes, it exists because we need for it to.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    While all the interview subjects are enthusiastic, the overall lack of familiarity with Rodriquez's personal background and career collapse begin to drag.

    Read Full Review

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The yarn is too irresistible: We're fed plenty of sugar in this authorized fairy tale, but are left hungry for beef.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Searching for Sugar Man reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Intriguing docu about missing musician; some language, pot.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Searching for Sugar Man is an acclaimed documentary with some references to drug use and some news footage of police and protester violence during apartheid. Expect strong, but brief swearing, specifically in lyrics, including "faggot," "f--k," and "hooker."

  • Families can talk about the filmmakers choice to make a movie about Rodriguez. What makes his story compelling? Where would you look for a good story to tell in film or writing?
  • How did Rodriguez react to learning about his unexpected fame? How do you think you would react?
  • What do you think about Rodriguez's music? Why didn't his career take off? Why did it catch on in South Africa?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: Never give up might be the most important message here, even if it takes years to achieve something. Rodriguez, the musician at the center of this doc, finally finds success, decades after releasing the album that was supposed to make him famous. It did, kind of, but in a most unlikely way, finally finding its audience on the far side of the world. While the artist toiled away taking menial jobs, he was completely unaware that he had become a household name in South Africa.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Rodriguez is a character study in humility. Having accepted that his musical career would never take off, he quietly raised a family, taking odd jobs and menial labor to get by. Years later, when he finally finds fame in far off South Africa, he refuses to take the trappings of success for granted, and when his tour is complete, he happily returns to his quiet life in the U.S. He's happy with success, but he doesn't let it get to his head.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Old news footage of demonstrations in which people clash with the police. Cops push, beat, and even shoot protestors. Some shots of dead bodies. A few people in interviews describe stories of a musician killing himself onstage in quite graphic detail.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false4

    Language: Occasional swearing and name-calling, including "faggot" and "hooker" in lyrics, plus "s--t," "ass," and "f--k" in conversation.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: The film includes numerous snippets of Rodriguez's album Cold Fact, and the entire focus is on the life and career of this 1970s artist who disappeared before his work could catch on.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some general references to drugs, mainly pot use.