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Thunder Soul Review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    The New York Times Jeannette Catsoulis

    By introducing funky licks, fancy footwork and many of his own compositions to the band's stodgy set list of jazz standards, this indomitable leader (whose declining health adds a poignant twang to the film's final scenes) instilled racial pride alongside musical competency.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times

    Though it sometimes overplays the sentimentality, Thunder Soul gets not just the music but also the sense of possibility for this post-civil-rights generation.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Variety Joe Leydon

    Mark Landsman's spirited Thunder Soul offers a heaping helping of uplift while documenting the past triumphs and recent reunion of a predominantly black Houston high school's singularly accomplished jazz stage band.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    A greater argument for music education in our secondary school curriculum can't be made than Mark Landsman's doc about a Texas high school funk band that tore up the music scene from 1968 to 1977.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 9+

Uplifting docu spotlights legendary high school jazz band.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary is full of inspiring messages and strong role models. Although most Americans won't know the history of the legendary funk band featured in the movie, the documentary is fine for tweens and up. There are a couple of references to a band member's "thug"-like personality and the violence he left behind to stay in the band, as well as some brief mentions of how attractive the band was in the '70s. Some sensitive kids may feel saddened by the band teacher's decline in health and a couple of hospital scenes. Language is limited to "hell" and "damn." Overall, this is an inspiring look at a jazz band that revolutionized high school band competition.

  • Families can talk about how Prof makes a difference in his students' lives. What are some other movies about exceptional teachers who go the extra mile for their kids?
  • What is the movie's message about music and the arts? What do you think of Prof's statement that a principal who wants to cut the arts should be fired?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: Strong positive messages, especially that students, even those from poor neighborhoods, will excel if they're believed in and encouraged. Hard work, perseverance, and dedication are key to meeting high expectations. A teacher can motivate you for life. Art and music are powerful forces in the lives of young people.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Prof is an extraordinary role model. He doesn't accept mediocrity from his students because he believes in their greatness, and they're able to meet his standards of excellence with hard work and practice. His students are good role models for the difference that a fantastic educator can make in your life.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Brief references to a student's self-proclaimed thug-like attitude and the violence he escaped by joining the Kashmere Stage Band.

  • sex false-1

    Sex: References to band members' attractive appearance of in high school.

  • language false1

    Language: Occasional "hell" and "damn."

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Brief shot of an adult smoking in footage from the '70s.