Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. A warm and feisty documentary that is as much inquiry as it is tribute.
  2. 88
    The beauty of The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack lies in its ability to transform itself into a sad tale of loss, regret and missed opportunities while it also remains a solid documentary about a once-influential artist seeking his place in the sun.
  3. A kind of folktale, rooted in poignant personal experience.
  4. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    80
    An unbeatably colorful life story.
  5. This curious documentary is something rare, evincing opposites: It's both delightful and powerful.
  6. 75
    Hovers intriguingly between homage and revenge.
  7. The archival and interview footage is priceless.
  8. 75
    A long overdue look at the man's art and an unself-pitying and unsparing exploration of her (his daughter's) relationship with him.
  9. Reviewed by: Dan DeLuca
    75
    What gives the story added insight - and detracts from it - is the personal quest of the filmmaker who bears the scars of having an itinerant rogue who was never around as a father.
  10. Reviewed by: James Sullivan
    75
    Ends up musing perceptively on the American dream of wanderlust and its unintended consequences.
  11. The ballad as it turns out is a duet between a dad and his girl, who'd often rather accentuate the positive than exploit pain, quietly proving that she is her father's daughter.
  12. Elevated out of the music-documentary genre to become something of an intriguing mystery -- and one with no neat solution.
  13. 70
    A fascinating portrayal.
  14. Ms. Elliott's film is, in part, an effort to reverse his slow slide into obscurity. On this level it's an unqualified success.
  15. 63
    Bittersweet and often funny but overlong.
  16. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    60
    A rare treat for anyone interested in the American folk revival of early 1960s.
  17. 60
    An unusually rich music doc.
  18. Reviewed by: Richard Harrington
    60
    The film-which at 112 minutes, ends up ramblin' like its subject-does provide compelling rehab for an underrated artist.
  19. 60
    Writer-director Aiyana Elliott gives her father his due in this evenhanded yet impassioned documentary.

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