Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Sep 22, 2011
    100
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Sep 29, 2011
    89
    Music has rarely appeared more essential to the human drama.
  3. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Sep 28, 2011
    83
    Everything here is pitched relentlessly toward uplift, but at least that uplift is genuine, the product of one visionary's indomitable will and a musical universe he brought into existence through vision, dedication, and plenty of stubborn hard work.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Oct 6, 2011
    80
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Oct 6, 2011
    80
    A precious scrap of American history.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Sep 23, 2011
    80
    Warm memories of one school under a groove and a moving ending that no screenwriter could improve upon.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Sep 17, 2011
    80
    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.
  8. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Sep 17, 2011
    80
    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.
  9. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Sep 24, 2011
    75
    One serious omission in the film - identifying what these seemingly prosperous alumni of the band do for a living and did with their lives.
  10. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Sep 20, 2011
    70
    Sometimes you just can't fight the funk; as much as you might resist the film's more maudlin scenes, not succumbing to the band's signature tune, "Head Wiggle," is impossible.
  11. Reviewed by: Jesse Cataldo
    Sep 19, 2011
    63
    Forcefully traditional and sentimental, Thunder Soul benefits most from the cinematic turn of the actual events it documents, which allowed the beloved teacher's life to end on a perfectly bittersweet note.
  12. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Sep 20, 2011
    60
    Amid its celebrations of black power, ambitious Afros and fly female trombonists, the film serves as a rousing testament to the singular blessings of music education, since there's nothing inherent or automatic about kids learning how to groove.

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