It has been said that music is the great equalizer — that indefinable thing that brings us all together as one. And it’s entirely possible that’s giving it too much credit. But you have to admit that on those days when you’re feeling the most optimistic, that idea doesn’t seem too far from the truth.
As the one thing that makes us feel, that moves us beyond all logical explanation, it makes perfect sense that filmmakers continue to want to tell stories about the ways in which music, and specifically rock ’n’ roll, has changed us.
So for all those music fans out there — kick back, relax, and check out these 10 rock ’n’ roll movies that everyone should see.
The Blues Brothers — Cinemax
Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi star in this film based on the characters that they first made famous on Saturday Night Live. On a “mission from God” to help save the orphanage where they grew up, the Blues Brothers are the epitome of cool.
Empire Records — Rent or buy from $2.99 and up.
A group of record-store misfits in the midwest are hosting an album signing for a washed-up musician and are distraught to discover that the store that is like a second home to them is being sold to a chain called Musictown. There are lots of memorable faces in the cast, a great soundtrack, and some interesting trivia. (Example: Liv Tyler’s mother was married to Coyote Shivers at the time of filming, making Berko her step-dad. Super weird!)
The Commitments — Netflix
A young music fan sets out to start an Irish soul band based out of his parent’s home in northern Dublin.
School of Rock — Crackle/Tubi TV/Vudu
Jack Black poses as a substitute teacher and ends up turning a bunch of prep school kids into a rock band — teaching them a little bit about life along the way. Joan Cusack steals the show as the school’s distraught principal.
Across the Universe — Amazon Prime/FX/Fox/Tribeca Short List/DirecTV Now
If you’re a Beatles fan, you may have reservations about their songs being covered for this musical, which is chock full of their greatest hits. But fear not, as a Beatles fan myself, I think I can safely say you will be pleasantly surprised by this. Especially by the stellar performances of Jim Sturgess and Joe Anderson.
Almost Famous — Starz/Epix/DirecTV Now
The. Best. Rock. Movie. Of. All. Time. Just so we’re clear. Almost Famous, directed by and loosely based on the life of Cameron Crowe, is best described as a love song to the early 1970s rock scene. This also gave Kate Hudson her breakout role as the lovely Band-Aid, Penny Lane. It’s got a perfect cast, including the late Philip Seymour-Hoffman, and some of the most memorable lines of all time.
La Bamba — Starz
Most biopics have their fair share of heartache, but this one is extra-hurty. Lou Diamond Phillips stars as Ritchie Valens who tragically died in the same plane crash that killed The Big Bopper (J.P Richardson) and Buddy Holly.
That Thing You Do — Starz
If the catchy titular song isn’t stuck in your head for weeks after watching this movie, then you’ve watched it wrong and you need to go back and re-watch it. I’m not sorry. It’s mandatory.
Rock Star — HBO/Cinemax
An office supply salesman (played by Mark Wahlberg) gets a life changing phone call that puts him in the limelight and makes him… (wait for it)… a bonafide rock star.
The Wedding Singer — Cinemax
One of Adam Sandler’s most memorable roles, The Wedding Singer pairs him up with Drew Barrymore (not for the last time, as the two go on to star in 50 First Dates and Blended) in this hilarious romcom set in the 1980s.