Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  29 November 2002 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,856 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 74 user | 60 critic | 30 from

Documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists.



(Narration), (Narration), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

7 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A documentary about Tom Dowd, who was an innovative recording engineer and producer of noted albums with John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers and many others.

Director: Mark Moormann
Stars: Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A celebration of the musical work of a group of session musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew", a band that provided back-up instrumentals to such legendary recording artists as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Bing Crosby.

Director: Denny Tedesco
Stars: Brian Wilson, Dick Clark, Cher
Muscle Shoals (2013)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as "I'll Take You There", "Brown Sugar", and "When a Man Loves a Woman".

Director: Greg 'Freddy' Camalier
Stars: Rick Hall, Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A film about the career of the notorious punk rock band, the Sex Pistols.

Director: Julien Temple
Stars: Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A career retrospective of British punk band The Clash, featuring exclusive interviews with the entire band.

Director: Don Letts
Stars: Terry Chimes, Terence Dackombe, Topper Headon
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

Director: Morgan Neville
Stars: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

As the front man of the Clash from 1977 onwards, Joe Strummer changed people's lives forever. Four years after his death, his influence reaches out around the world, more strongly now than ... See full summary »

Director: Julien Temple
Stars: Joe Strummer, Steve Jones, Mick Jones
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

First-time filmmaker and award-winning photographer Sam Jones documents the recording of Wilco's album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot."

Director: Sam Jones
Stars: Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Leroy Bach
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A documentary on the evolution of the Oklahoma band The Flaming Lips.

Director: Bradley Beesley
Stars: Bradley Beesley, Steve Burns, Dolly Coyne
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A film account and presentation of the final concert of The Band.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robbie Robertson, Muddy Waters, Neil Young
Punk: Attitude (TV Movie 2005)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary on the music, performers, attitude and distinctive look that made up punk rock.

Director: Don Letts
Stars: K.K. Barrett, Roberta Bayley, Jello Biafra
Scratch (2001)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A feature-length documentary film about hip-hop DJing, otherwise known as turntablism. From the South Bronx in the 1970s to San Francisco now, the world's best scratchers, beat-diggers, ... See full summary »

Director: Doug Pray
Stars: Marc 7, Afra, Carlos Aguilar


Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard 'Pistol' Allen ...
Benny 'Papa Zita' Benjamin ...
Himself (archive footage)
Eddie 'Bongo' Brown ...
Himself (archive footage)
Johnny Griffith ...
James Jamerson ...
Himself (archive footage)
Uriel Jones ...
Gerald Levert ...


In 1959, Berry Gordy Jr. gathered the best musicians from Detroit's thriving jazz and blues scene to begin cutting songs for his new record company. Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown's Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined - which makes them the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music. They called themselves the Funk Brothers. Forty-one years after they played their first note on a Motown record and three decades since they were all together, the Funk Brothers reunited back in Detroit to play their music and tell their unforgettable story, with the help of archival footage, still photos, narration, interviews, re-creation scenes, 20 Motown master tracks, and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Brothers backing up contemporary performers. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They played on more #1 records than the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined... This is their story. See more »


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 November 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Story of the Funk Brothers  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$114,442 (USA) (15 November 2002)


$1,600,547 (USA) (21 February 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Montell JordanChaka Khan: [singing] Baby, there ain't no mountain high enough / Ain't no valley low enough / Ain't no river wide enough to keep me from getting to you.
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Cool Jerk
by Donald Storball
Performed by Bootsy Collins and The Funk Brothers
Bootsy Collins appears courtesy of WEA Records
Used by permission of Trio Music Co., Inc. and Alley Music Corp.
All Rights Reserved
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

In the beginning it was The Funk Brothers
8 March 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"Standing in the Shadows of Motown" is a documentary that has to be seen by all lovers of popular music. This is a must for all fans of the best sound that came out in the middle of the last century from Detroit. Paul Justman, the director of this extraordinary documentary, takes us into a fantastic voyage to the place where the music was born. Aided by the narration of Ntozake Shange and Walter Dallas, this film will warm up anybody's heart.

The documentary is a tribute to the people that created most of the hits that became popular and went to become classics: The Funk Brothers, as they were known. The survivors of these talented musicians are presented individually, and those no longer living are remembered with anecdotes told by living artists in loving memory of them. These talented musicians gave America, and the world, some of the most memorable songs of its history.

The Funk Brothers' music had such an edge, that everything else written by popular songwriters pale in comparison. Detroit nurtured these magnificent musicians and gave them the base where they were able to excel by creating something that wasn't easily duplicated by their contemporaries, or their followers.

In a poignant performance Chaka Khan, perhaps the best and most original exponent of the genre gives an amazing rendition of the old Marvin Gaye's mega hit, "What's going on". Then, to end the film, this incredible and generous singer is seen and heard with Montell Jordan singing "Ain't no Mountain High", which keep us singing, smiling, and shedding a tear for that innocent bygone era that the sensational Funk Brothers created for our delight and pleasure.

Long live the Funk Brothers and the sound they left behind. Amen!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
best and worst performances? zazzy-zulu
now we know how he made that sound shesabear
How did this miss some major awards? cjb_cello
Books about Motown Fuelrot
best scene jnmcdona
where to get hold of this program? piglet44
Discuss Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page