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Parchís: The Documentary
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Parchís: The Documentary is a music documentary about the rise and fall of a tween pop band in Spain in the early 1980s. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles. While their stories are relatively tame compared to other bands, there are some scenes in which the band members and their entourage discuss some of the questionable behavior of adults and kids. For instance, there's talk of how older men showed inappropriate interest in the girls in the band. Mentions of drugs at parties. One of the older band members is said to have smoked, sometimes drank, and started having sex at a very young age. There's talk of this band member's "conquests," including older women. In a scene from one of their movies, the band's manager offers the kids tranquilizers. Also in these movies, there's an overweight child who, for the sake of comedy, is shown constantly eating every food he can get his hands on. In one of their songs, there are lyrics like "we'll have a nice drink well made with ice and gin," and "we'll share a cigarette." Infrequent mild profanity. Overall, this documentary shows the rise and fall of an enormously successful tween band, the problems child entertainers face when they grow up and are no longer famous, the questionable business practices of the record label and management that groomed Parchís for success, and the bitter breakup and eventual reconciliation of the band.
What's the story?
In 1979, a struggling record label in Spain decided to appeal to the burgeoning youth population by creating a tween pop group. They auditioned, developed, marketed, and recorded a group of five tweens called Parchís, who went on to record 20 albums, star in seven movies, play Madison Square Garden, and develop a following on par with The Beatles in some Latin American countries. Through contemporary interviews and archival footage, PARCHIS: THE DOCUMENTARY tells the story of the meteoric rise and acrimonious fall of Parchís and the long road back to reconciliation for the members many years later. It shows the frenzied response they received from their fan base wherever they played, but also discusses how there was little adult supervision, and the less-than-ethical business practices from the label and management that didn't leave the members of Parchís with as much money as one might think, considering their massive success. It shows the members of Parchís decades after their early 1980s musical peak, older and wiser, discussing their perspectives on the good and the bad of their past lives as tween superstars.
Is it any good?
Parchís: The Documentary is an excellent Spanish take on the classic tale of the meteoric rise and inevitable fall of young entertainers. From the vantage point of decades after their early 1980s success, Parchís now comes off as a surreal mix of a tween Village People, Abba, The Partridge Family, and Jackson Five. Some of their songs (whether you want them to or not) manage to linger in one's head days after viewing the movie, and the song "La Batalla de Los Planetas" comes off as an attempt at David Bowie that ends up as Sun Ra-style space disco. The sense of "unreal reality" comes through not only in the music, but also in the members' memories of whirlwind stardom and not much adult supervision.
It's a thorough and comprehensive look at Parchís' heyday, and it's also yet another cautionary tale of music industry and management greed, resulting in the performers not getting paid as much as they should, considering the vast sales and popularity. And yet, unlike so many child stars who end up as pathetic parodies at best or killed by their personal demons at worst, the members of Parchís come across as relatively grounded and as awed by what happened in such a short time as anyone else. Reconciled after a tragic near-fatal car accident of one of the members, the band mates are downright likable. It's refreshing to see band members who have survived such overwhelming success and gone on to relatively settled adult lives.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about music documentaries. How does this documentary mirror other music documentaries that discuss the rise and fall of a once-popular band or performer?
How did the documentary combine interviews with archival footage to tell the story?
The documentary discusses some of the unsavory practices of the record label that created and marketed Parchís, their management, and the adults in general who were supposed to be looking after them. Do you think problems like these continue in the music industry, especially with artists who might not be old enough to make their own decisions or understand contracts?
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