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Searching for Sugar Man (2012)


Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 117
Fresh: 111
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious.

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 34
Rotten: 2

Critics Consensus: A fascinating portrait of a forgotten musical pioneer, Searching for Sugar Man is by turns informative and mysterious.


Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 17,997


Movie Info

Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late '60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording … More

PG-13 (foir brief strong language and some drug references)
Musical & Performing Arts , Documentary
Directed By:
Written By:
Malik Bendjelloul
In Theaters:
Jan 22, 2013
Box Office:
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Searching for Sugar Man

All Critics (122) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (6) | DVD (1)

At 85 minutes, it's a tight, sharp achievement, yet one of the things I love about it is simple: It moves to a relaxed rhythm, in sync with its slightly otherworldly subject.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

The search for a long-lost pop icon has an unexpected payoff.

Full Review… | September 21, 2012
Top Critic

[A] moving, lyrical account ...

Full Review… | September 17, 2012
New Yorker
Top Critic

It starts as a bittersweet parable about the cruelty of commerce, but the wonder of "Searching for Sugar Man" will not soon slip away.

Full Review… | September 13, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Director Malik Bendjelloul's engaging, cleverly structured documentary about the legendary folk singer Rodriguez is shaped like a mystery.

Full Review… | September 13, 2012
Miami Herald
Top Critic

You watch "Searching for Sugar Man" at first fascinated by the mystery - what happened to Rodriguez? Where did he go? Then you become infuriated by its revelations of financial injustice.

Full Review… | August 23, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Intriguing docu about missing musician; some language, pot.

Full Review… | March 1, 2013
Common Sense Media

As a documentary, "Searching for Sugar Man" falls short, but as an enormously satisfying feel-good story it hits the mark.

Full Review… | January 24, 2013
Movie Metropolis

You can still enjoy the film. I did, but it's nothing more than a fairy tale.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
Electric Sheep

[Rodriguez] is a highly unusual and fascinating human being, and Searching for Sugar Man is a very interesting look at his life, his music, and the strange, fickle nature of fame.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013

There's no arguing this is a remarkable story, and director Malik Bendjelloul tells it beautifully, creating a powerful sense of mystery and discovery even when we're tipped off to how the story ends.

Full Review… | January 7, 2013
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A nimble and engaging documentary, less about a man than about a myth -- and about the experience of loving an under-loved artist.

Full Review… | December 28, 2012

'Searching For Sugar Man' simply shouts out for celebration!

Full Review… | December 16, 2012

"Searching for Sugar Man" is a valentine to every artist who feels like he toils away in obscurity, unsure of or unaware of the impact he might make on the world.

Full Review… | December 14, 2012
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

This story has an uplifting arc that suggests this isn't the last we'll hear of this forgotten hero of pop.

Full Review… | December 1, 2012
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Fortunately filmmaker Bendjelloul decided that Rodriguez's story needed to be told - one of the most fascinating biographies ever put on film.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

Part music documentary, part mystery, all inspirational homage to unrecognized genius everywhere.

Full Review… | October 19, 2012

For the most part an endearing documentary about mystery Bob Dylan-like singer Sixto Rodriguez.

Full Review… | October 19, 2012
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An amazing story. If music is the glue of the world then Rodriguez is the super glue.

Full Review… | October 18, 2012
The Popcorn Junkie

Does a nice job of presenting the mystery and history of Rodriguez... but seems incomplete, and biased in favor of its predetermined narrative.

Full Review… | October 15, 2012
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Rodriguez, once he emerges from the mists, appears to be a sweet, decent - and remarkably intact - soul. One wonders if he had achieved his rock 'n' roll dreams, would his daughters have turned out so well?

Full Review… | October 15, 2012
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

There's a fascinating story in the rise and fall of singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, "the Latin Bob Dylan," and it's too bad that the documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" doesn't tell enough of it.

Full Review… | October 12, 2012
Salt Lake Tribune

A soulful, lip-tremblingly joyous movie that's one of the more affecting experiences I've had in a cinema this year.

Full Review… | October 11, 2012

Engrossing even when it's a little unfocused.

Full Review… | October 11, 2012
Las Vegas Weekly

One of the most bizarre pop music documentaries ever...a singularly fascinating true-life tale that many of its participants still find difficult to believe.

Full Review… | October 5, 2012

Audience Reviews for Searching for Sugar Man


A riveting, incredible documentary about the talented musician Rodriguez and how, after two hit albums in the 1970's, disappeared seemingly into thin air. After two of his biggest fans decide to attempt to track him down even though rumors persist that he's dead, they stumble upon more parts to their hero's amazing true story. This is a story that is almost too special to believe it is true, but the film strikes a genuine tone that is as interested as the viewer to get to the bottom of this mysterious man. Without revealing too much, this is one of the best documentaries made in quite some time, close to perfect. A must-see for any music fan or avid follower of documentaries.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Maybe a must watch for the hardcore fans of Sixto Rodriguez, but to me (never heard the guy's name before; gave it a shot simply because the documentary synopsis had a mystic touch to it), it's as watchable as skipable. The first half is quite interesting, but then it (understandably) gets repetitive. Might have liked it better had it being cut to the chase ;-)

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


This film unfortunately suffered from the hype machine. Had I stumbled upon this documentary while scanning for late night entertainment, then I admit I would probably be much more impressed than I am right now.

With so much praise being heaped on this film, I was expecting something a bit more probing and/or profound. Instead, I got a delightful little doc about a humble American folk singer who after years of drowning in myth and obscurity, discovered that his art has touched the lives of millions in other parts of the globe.

It doesn't villify the music industry or spend too much time looking to assign blame. Rather, it seeks to celebrate. Not only the artist Rodriguez, but the power of music. Sounds rather cliche, but Searching For Sugar Man somehow manages to make it feel fresh.

While not one of the more exciting films to be released this year, Sugar Man will surely leave a smile on your face.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

A well shot and produced doc with a fascinating story. It's hard to wrap your mind around something like this story playing out when we've lived so long in a world connected online. I doubt we will be able to have a story such as this happen again.

Jason Spencer

Super Reviewer

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