Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Though the advertising plays up the film's Bush-bashing angle, it gives a false impression. This is really more of a backstage drama.
  2. 100
    The Dixie Chicks may never regain their prolonged eminence on the country charts. However, the art and entertainment value of this movie (and of their latest album) is off the charts in the best way.
  3. 88
    Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's film is a fascinating look at the intersection of commerce, celebrity, and controversy.
  4. Most importantly, Shut Up & Sing is about what happens in the music industry to people who won't.
  5. 80
    The movie endorses the liberal conception of the Chicks as free-speech heroes, which doesn't quite wash: Maines shot her mouth off to a receptive overseas crowd, then issued an apology as soon as the backlash began back home.
  6. 88
    The documentary shows what a tight-knit group the Chicks are.
  7. A seriously entertaining highlight of the fall season.
  8. The film may be subtitled "Shut Up & Sing," but you can't sing with your mouth closed.
  9. Through it all, Natalie Maines' decision to shirk humility, to stick by her guns, to the point that the group returns to that London concert venue in 2006 and she utters the same joke again, becomes a feisty and inspiring act of something there is only one word for: patriotism.
  10. 70
    Kopple and Peck went on and off the road with the band for the three years of waffling, agonizing and defiance in between Maines’ mouth-offs.
  11. 75
    The fact that you might emerge from the theater eager to give their albums a listen is a testament to how effective this lively and stirring movie about freedom of speech really is.
  12. As insightful as it is entertaining.
  13. What a mind-bending odyssey ensues--a tale of good old-fashioned American free expression at war with good old-fashioned American capitalism.
  14. 75
    Sharper and far more entertaining than most political documentaries.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The filmmakers are clearly in awe of the Chicks' fighting spirit. If you think Maines's original Bush remark was disrespectful, wait till you hear what she calls him here. Maines is not ready to make nice, and neither is this riveting documentary.
  16. 88
    For three years, the camera focuses on the Chicks as wives, mothers, entertainers and political flash points. Their fight to stay uncompromised is inspiring.
  17. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    Documentary filmmakers pray for something to happen to their subjects when the cameras are rolling, and two-time Academy Award-winning documentarian Kopple struck gold when Maines told a crowd on the opening night of the band's first European tour that she was "ashamed" that President Bush was from Texas.
  18. An inspiring story of pluck, but its politics fall flat.
  19. 75
    Maines' big mouth and winning candor got her into trouble, but Shut Up & Sing suffers from filmmakers who are intent on playing it safe.
  20. Both the Chicks and this doc are left to deal with the aftermath as best they can. The film chooses to pad with an occasional over-reliance on cutesy filler -- a pregnant Emily having an ultra-sound, giving birth, recuperating at her beloved ranch away from it all.
  21. The movie offers a revealing case study of the relationship between politics, celebrity and the media in today’s polarized social climate.
  22. Reviewed by: Angel Cohn
    While it's unlikely that her film will sway former fans who swore off the band for political reasons, that seems beside the point.
  23. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    While there is a vague hint of a vanity project in a few extraneous scenes, directors Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck have fashioned a compelling and rousing film that will not only appeal to Chicks fans, but make fans of those who weren't before.
  24. Reviewed by: Phil Gallo
    It's the rare thorough documentary on a musical act whose dilemmas are faced in the here and now, one that should win over fans of the Chicks on the fence and of music docus and perhaps create a little cultural stir as well.
  25. Reviewed by: Luke Y. Thompson
    The movie's not quite the Bush bashfest its publicity might lead you to believe; it's closer to the Metallica doc "Some Kind of Monster" than to "Fahrenheit 9/11."
  26. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    Sympathetic, engaging documentary.
  27. One of the excellent attributes of Shut Up & Sing is that it lets the cards fall where they may and really doesn't try to spin the Chicks themselves. It's quite possible, then, to watch the film and come to the conclusion that Maines has a big mouth. Spectacularly talented, the young singer is also a spectacular blowhard.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 37 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 19
  2. Negative: 4 out of 19
  1. AlexH
    Feb 26, 2009
    This documentary portrays the Dixie Chicks as victims, and expects us to pity their plight - except their still selling millions of albums, and going on massive tours. Are we honestly supposed to pity a band for making $10 million instead of $20 million? Any semblance of artistic integrity they may have had is gone by the time you watch their 25th meeting about how to successfully rebrand themselves to the republic. "OK, so we had a bad bit of publicity...Now how do we convince the public to continue buying our crap?" Full Review »
  2. ChadS.
    Dec 16, 2007
    After frontwoman Natalie Maimes tells a sold-out audience that she's ashamed of President Bush being from Texas for the second time; you wonder what her Dixie cohorts are thinking, who can do nothing but smile. More importantly, what does their manager Simon Renshaw think? Even though The Dixie Chicks are more punk rock than 3 Doors Down(have you seen the "Citizen Soldier" music video for the National Guard?), "Shut Up and Sing" does have its p.r. moments to help restore the girls into the good graces of country radio. To prevent irreparable damage between the outspoken trio and Bush supporters, Emily Robison(the one who looks a little like Julia Roberts) is presented as a good ol' fashioned country girl. We see her on a farm with her husband and newly-born twins, and when interviewed, she expresses her concerns about making a rock record with music producer Rick Rubin and living in Los Angeles. Unlike Maines, who's a little bit country, and a little bit rock-and-roll, Robison declares herself as all country, all the time. "Shut Up and Sing" needs this dialectic because it clearly has a liberal agenda. In presenting the girls' detractors, the filmmaker uses footage of the most ignorant, least educated people possible. But The Dixie Chicks are going to need these "hicks" after President Bush leaves office, because their new fanbase may walk away, too. The jonny-come-latelys who only love this country act because they committed an act of civil disobedience against the machine. Full Review »
  3. Will.
    Mar 26, 2007
    Well, the problem here is this: Maines is disingenuous. She apologizes for her behavior when the entirety of society decries her behavior -- yet retracts her apology when the majority agree with her. You know what? That's the hallmark of someone without the spine to stand on their own. Honestly, her politics are incidental. I may aree with her on paper...but the woman is far from an intellectual. She's disgusting in her weakness as an individual. Full Review »