Stop Making Sense Movie Review

Stop Making Sense

Why stop making sense? Why a movie? Why a big suit? Where do the odd movements come from?


David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison

Bernie Worrell, Alex Weir, Lynn Mabry, Steven Scales, Ednah Holt Update Cast

Thanks to Sam P
David Byrne's staggering during the latter part of "Psycho Killer" was directly inspired by Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding (1951) during the song "I Left My Hat In Haiti".

More Trivia from Stop Making Sense


What will the band do next?

When you see a concert movie, you usually just sit back and thank goodness you're not in the middle of 10,000 people. You just watch. This is different. "Stop Making Sense" is not watched... It is experienced.

To some, the concert follows a loose plot (An uptight man joins the human race)... To all, it brings together a collection of dynamite musical numbers!

Cast your mind back to 1983... The Talking Heads are in L.A. They've bought along Jonathan Demme (previously the man behind off-beat fare like "Caged Heat", "Crazy Mama" and "Melvin & Howard"), and as he filmed a series of 4 concerts, magic was made.

Starting off with a solo acoustic-guitar-and-beatbox reindition of "Psycho Killer", David Byrne entertains the audience. As Tina Weymouth joins in, the melancholic yet strangely happy "Heaven" is performed. Chris Frantz comes out, hits the kit, and starts in on "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel". Finally, Guitarist Jerry Harrison joins the scene for "Found A Job". Back-up singers Mabry and Holt, along with Worrell, Weir and Steven Scales come on out for "Slippery People" and "Burning Down The House". The fans are loving it, but this is just the beginning. Now the images begin.

With "Life During Wartime", Byrne does the "knock-knee" dance (Better seen than described) and the band jogs in place. As we hear "Making Flippy Floppy", on screens in the back are images of funny and weird words and phrases ("hamburger", "alarm clock", "fur coat" and so forth). David slips on a bluesy voice for the dirty-sounding tune "Swamp" (also featured in the 1983 Martin Scorcese picture "The King Of Comedy"). After a good performance of "What A Day That Was", Byrne and company play the poignant song of belonging "Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)". Spirits are kept up, though, as we see images of hands, feet and stomachs, while Byrne dances with a lamp. To end this second part, Byrne reaches into his soul and comes out screaming on a powerful reindition of "Once In A Lifetime".

Lightness prevails for the final 3rd. First up, the off-shoot band Tom Tom Club performs their hit "Genius Of Love", complete with Tina hopping like a rabbit and Chris screaming out "JAMES BROWN... JAMES BROWN!". In what has been described as both the movie's signature scene and a portrait of the "Greed Is Good" 80s, Byrne comes out wearing a big suit! I can't describe it, but in a suit that makes his head look small and his body look big, Byrne performs a roof-raising and totally blazing "Girlfriend Is Better". As his suit dissolves, an excellent reindition of "Take Me To The River" is performed. The movie ends with "Cross-Eyed And Painless" ...the crowd is on their feet, and the Heads are bringing the goods. With that, the movie ends, but you, dear viewer, feel better, and may even be boogying after the credits are over.

Remember how I said "you thank goodness you're not in the middle of 10,000 people"? This movie says otherwise... You'll want to travel back to 1983, get your tickets, and see an awesome show! Until time-travel is invented, we have this movie as a document of a band at its prime.

The Talking Heads... What will this band do next?

Author: John Edward KilduffUpdate This Review


A perfect 80s movie in every conceivable way. Pure music... Pure magic.

To me, this is Demme's best movie. Long after the final reference to fava beans and Chianti is made... Long after "Philadelphia" is viewed as outdated... Long after "Beloved" is forgotten... This movie shall remain!

A jewel of the 80s... And one of the greatest concert movies of all time, if not the absolute!

Great singing, great choreography, great looks, great editing, great directing... GREAT ALL AROUND!
None... flawless!

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Jonathan Demme, Talking Heads
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Gary Kurfirst
Locations Manager:

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Release Date: 18 Oct 1984
MPAA Rating: NR
Studio: Island Alive
Production: Music Television (MTV), Talking Heads
Genre: Dance / Music

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The Movie Trailer
Jump To: Music & Soundtrack Vibes
1984 Island Alive
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