The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

This appears to be a Bee Gees documentary developed by the Bee Gees.

Either that or the director, Frank Marshall, is a huge Bee Gees fan who couldn’t help but make it a sycophantic examination of the band’s many highs while sweeping low points under the rug (the most egregious example is the death of Andy Gibb, which gets a brief on-screen message and no significant examination). This isn’t a bad film, but I found the it’s-always-great-to-be-a-Bee-Gee! veneer a bit disingenuous.

The film achieves its main goal: Make everyone understand how long-lasting, prolific, and influential the Bee Gees were. Of particular note is the band’s post-disco reinvention into go-to songwriters for other artists. I didn’t realize the Bee Gees were responsible for songs like “Heartbreaker” (Dionne Warwick) and “Islands in the Stream” (Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers). So, mission accomplished!

When I see a documentary about a band–even a band I don’t really connect with–I’ll have a few moments where I think “damn, this song is really good” and I’ll rush to add tracks to my playlists. That didn’t happen in this case because, as much as I admire what the Bee Gees accomplished, their music never hit me in a consequential way. Perhaps it’s fitting that this documentary didn’t hit me, either.

The dark side of Disco Demolition Night: The highlight of the documentary is a brief section that reveals the racism and homophobia that drove the backlash to disco. Vince Lawrence, a music producer and one of the interview subjects in the documentary, was an usher at Comiskey Park in 1979 when Disco Demolition Night was held. Lawrence notes in the film that many of the albums destroyed that night were by Black R&B artists. Rob Tannenbaum wrote a piece that further explores these racist and homophobic undercurrents.