Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 21
  2. Negative: 3 out of 21
Watch On
  1. 88
    One for the time capsule.
  2. 88
    The movie is the product of his (Friedman) big, shiny love of forgotten soul legends whom superstardom (and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I might add) has eluded.
  3. One of the happiest movies around.
  4. 80
    Fascinating group portrait of soul and R & B legends who are still touring 40 years after their original fame, enduring even after they've been relegated to the nostalgia circuit.
  5. It emphasizes its stars' capacity to endure as individuals and entertainers and does not dwell on the harder times and personal travails they survived. However, it acknowledges the well-known exploitation black artists have traditionally experienced in the pop music industry.
  6. Reviewed by: Steve Simels
    Most of the music is as fine and fierce as you could want.
  7. This is no antique show: Faced with an audience, they are still amazingly vital and sometimes amazingly lewd.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The No. 1 thing Only the Strong Survive will have to survive is being overshadowed by "Standing in the Shadows of Motown." Less focused than last fall's slam-dunk Funk remembrance, Survive is a more modest soul review.
  9. In its zeal to bring recognition to an underappreciated genre, it has an agenda similar to that of last year's revelatory documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown."
  10. 70
    Even with its flaws should be cheered for preserving the later years of these towering musical talents.
  11. 67
    Agreeable and warm, is content for the most part merely to allude to complexity and darkness in the lives of its subjects.
  12. 63
    The frustrating part is that Only the Strong Survive includes at least as many mundane moments as soul-stirring ones -- and the film isn't much more than a collection of moments.
  13. 63
    Captures some remarkably vivid present-day performances by the aging performers.
  14. 60
    I'd have welcomed more archival footage (Pennebaker did, after all, document Otis Redding's epochal performance at the Monterey Pop Festival), but that would be asking for another movie.
  15. 60
    But while Only The Strong Survive is essential viewing for soul fans, as a documentary it never makes the needed connections among the artists, their music, and the lives they lead.
  16. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Less an historical flashback than a present-tense valentine.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Harrington
    The film could use a little less of the gee-whiz commentary of co-producer/narrator Roger Friedman and more storytelling from the survivors themselves.
  18. The rather sad performances boast more clams than a Pismo beach party.
  19. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    This film has so many chances to spice up the screen....and passes, I was wondering if I were watching an info-mercial for some kind of "K-Tel Classics- Revisted" album.
  20. Reviewed by: James Sullivan
    Sometimes the story just lies there like an old cat in the sun.
  21. 10
    All Only the Strong Survive has to offer are scraps, and it's a sad thing to sit through a movie billed as a tribute to a group of terrific performers and to come away with nothing more than scraps.
User Score

No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. MichelleM.
    May 6, 2006
    Several great performances: : Jerry Butler, Wilson Pickett, Ann Peebles, Mary Wilson, stitched together with chatter and disconnected Several great performances: : Jerry Butler, Wilson Pickett, Ann Peebles, Mary Wilson, stitched together with chatter and disconnected vignettes. Lack of depth in portraying the soul of the performers or of the culture in which they thrived. Much less compelling or evocative than Standing In the Shadows of Motown. Full Review »