True Stories

Quirky David Byrne-helmed musical is aimed at adults.
  • Review Date: January 7, 2013
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The people in True Stories may seem a bit too quirky to be real, but the film is celebrating the odd, the endearing, the honest, and showing how everyone is linked. Parts of the film subtly critique modern consumerism.

Positive role models

Narrator Byrne introduces viewers to several people who, while they may not seem like people worth emulating, have good hearts and want to do good, even if their habits make them seem a bit odd.

Not applicable

A single man seeks love, and when he finally meets the woman of his dreams, they engage in a warm, though somewhat chaste, kiss.

Not applicable

Several well-known brands are mentioned by name, including Apple computers and Texas Instruments. It also name-checks some major media companies such as ABC and CBS, and the venerable news show 60 Minutes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes take place at bars, parties, and social events where people drink wine and other drinks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that True Stories is a quirky musical written and directed by David Byrne, the front man for the band Talking Heads. Byrne encourages viewers to appreciate the oddball characters he highlights and shows how everyone is interconnected. Characters drink socially in some settings. The film is appropriate for all ages, though teens and adults will get the most out of it.

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What's the story?

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne wrote, directed, and stars in TRUE STORIES, a quirky and charming look at small-town life in the fictional Virgil, Texas, as the community gears up for its Celebration of Special-ness event. The loosely connected vignettes introduce a series of unusual characters, including Louis (John Goodman), a single man seeking a wife, and Swoosie Kurtz, whose character never leaves her bed. All of this is punctuated by catchy musical numbers, many featuring Talking Heads tunes.

Is it any good?


True Stories, much like its star Byrne, very much has its own sensibility. Byrne, who serves as narrator and guide to the residents of Virgil, clearly adores these characters, and though they each have their own unique mannerisms, they are also much like all of us. It's easy to find reasons to identify with all of them.

But don't look too hard here -- there's not a whole lot of story and there's not a whole lot of action. Really, this is a sweet look at not-very real people, who serve as a canvas for the rest of us to get a good luck at what makes any of us into who we are. There's an artist at work here, Byrne, who has a definite vision of what he's trying to make. Some people might not get it, and some might not appreciate it. But those who do will find something real in these true stories.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the residents of Virgil, Texas. Do you think they are special? What makes them much the same as the rest of us, and what sets them apart?

  • Find out more about David Byrne and The Talking Heads. What are their most famous songs? What else are they known for?

Movie details

DVD release date:March 30, 1999
Cast:David Byrne, John Goodman, Swoosie Kurtz
Director:David Byrne
Studio:Warner Bros.
Topics:Misfits and underdogs, Music and sing-along
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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