Shut Up and Sing
If you’re talking about Natalie Portman, you can count on my vote!

Theatrical Release Date: 10/27/2006
Directors: Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck
Featuring: Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire

Strumming its way through theaters has been the Dixie Chicks’ documentary “Shut Up & Sing”.

The title references the sentiment generated from a statement the lead singer, Natalie Maines, made at a 2003 concert in London. At a time when W’s popularity wasn’t flushed down the drain, she “dared” say that “she was ashamed the President of the United Stated is from Texas”.

The crowd there cheered and seemed to agree whole-heartedly but things were much different stateside.

The conservative country fan base turned on the Chicks faster than they could buy up NASCAR infield trailer hookups.

The group received a de-facto blacklisting on country radio due to listener threats of boycotts, former “fans” held rallies to burn their CDs and some people went as far as to issue death threats.

All of the controversy forced the Dixie Chicks into relative obscurity, or at least as invisible as the biggest selling female group of all time could become.

Through those times, the group stuck together and ended up going to producer Rick Rubin (much more known for his rock and rap collaborations) to craft their first album after the storm.

The result was a top selling and, eventually, Grammy award-winning album, spearheaded by their response to the controversy in the song “Not Ready To Make Nice.”

I should let it be known that I am an admitted fan of the Dixie Chicks and was even quasi-dragged to one of their concerts six or seven years ago.

This helped me enjoy the documentary, however therein lies my first complaint. I don’t think anyone but a fan of the group would find the film compelling or even worth watching.

“Shut Up & Sing” is almost a disjointed mess, flittering between the ramifications of Maines’ political views, the group’s issues making a new album, their home lives and the public’s double about-face (we love them, we hate them, we love them again).

Without an appreciation for their music, I doubt I would have wanted to stay for the whole film.

Yes, I know that music documentaries are held to a different standard but I think in order to truly standout from a film perspective, one’s ability to enjoy it shouldn’t be beholden to their love of the subject’s work.

Call me crazy. (Please don’t, I have a fragile ego.)

So in the end, I have to award “Shut Up & Sing” a 2 out of 5. I enjoyed it but if you don’t have any interest in the Dixie Chicks, you won’t find anything to grab onto with this film.