19 of the Best Drumming Movies of All Time
If you’re looking for movies that focus on drummers and their experiences, you’ve come to the right place. This list contains some of the best movies that showcase the lives of drummers, featuring inspiring stories and performances.
Included on this list are movies about musicians, films with a strong drum-focused storyline, and documentaries about some of the world’s greatest drummers. These movies offer a deeper insight into the world of drumming, providing a great source of motivation and inspiration for drummers.
- 1. Whiplash
- 2. The Gene Krupa Story
- 3. A Drummers Dream
- 4. Birdman
- 5. Sound of Noise
- 6. That Thing You Do
- 7. Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
- 8. Beware of Mr. Baker
- 9. The Mambo Kings
- 10. The Drummer
- 11. The Strip
- 12. Sound of Metal
- 13. Hop
- 14. Tenacious D – The Pick of Destiny
- 15. Adventures of Power
- 16. Drumline
- 17. Wayne’s World
- 18. Step Brothers
- 19. This is Spinal Tap
Probably the most famous movie on this list, Whiplash is a masterpiece directed by Damien Chazelle. The movie revolves around a jazz drum student and his obsessive professor, for which J.K. Simmons won an Oscar. It is a great combination of wonderful jazz scores played in the movie itself and the compelling story between the two main characters.
By watching this movie, you can learn something about jazz drums and see in detail how music schools actually work (apart from obsessive professors, of course). Even if you have already watched this Miles Teller movie, this list would not be complete without it
2. The Gene Krupa Story
The Gene Krupa Story is a movie from 1959 that depicts the life of the famous jazz drummer Gene Krupa. Krupa himself plays all the music in the movie, and it tells the story of his rise to fame and subsequent fall due to drug and alcohol abuse. Although it may seem slightly cheesy by today’s standards, the movie provides an opportunity to listen to Krupa’s exceptional playing, which is reason enough to watch it.
3. A Drummers Dream
A Drummer’s Dream is a documentary film that features seven of the best drummers in the world holding classes and passing on their knowledge to the younger generation of drummers.
This beautiful movie showcases the love of music, and you can learn a lot about the different styles these drummers have mastered, from jazz, soul, funk, rock to Latin rhythms. You can hear it all firsthand from the masters of this craft. Regardless of the style you play, you’re guaranteed to learn something from watching this documentary.
The drum-focused soundtrack to this movie really took me by surprise. It’s pretty epic indeed!
Although it is not a movie about drumming or music at all, it is included on this list because almost all of the soundtrack features drums, and exceptional drums at that. This Oscar-winning movie is about an aging movie star trying to revive his career in a Broadway production, and it is excellent on its own. However, what makes it legendary is really the soundtrack.
The constant drumming with just a hint of other instruments at times is a real winner for this movie.
5. Sound of Noise
Sound of Noise is a Swedish movie with perhaps the most imaginative plot on this list, or ever for that matter. The plot is as follows: a group of six guerrilla percussionists terrorizes the city with their playing, and a tone-deaf, music-hating inspector is trying to catch them.
Although it may sound silly, the movie is rather funny and features great editing combined with a brilliant soundtrack consisting of percussion on everyday items found in a city. It is highly recommended to seek out and watch this movie because you will laugh and enjoy great music while doing so.
6. That Thing You Do
This is a pleasant movie written and directed by Tom Hanks about a young band in the mid-’60s that achieves fame when their drummer breaks his arm, and his substitute introduces them to the 4/4 rhythm, bringing the Beatles’ sound to the USA.
Although it is a family-friendly movie, it has a nice story and provides insight into how show business really works.
7. Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
This documentary focuses on Levon Helm, the drummer of the legendary band, The Band. Helm reflects on his history with the band, his playing style, and is shown practicing for a Band reunion after 25 years.
Documentaries like these are a great way to preserve knowledge and introduce younger generations to some of the drumming legends who may now be retired but can still put on quite a show. These legends have had an immense influence on drumming and music development over the years.
8. Beware of Mr. Baker
Ginger Baker, one of the most famous drummers in the world, revolutionized the way drums are used, especially in rock music. In this documentary, he looks back on his work with Cream, where he and Eric Clapton made history together, and his work with Fela Kuti, the legendary African musician.
Today, Baker lives on his farm in South Africa, and this documentary is a great tribute to one of the most influential drummers in the history of music.
9. The Mambo Kings
Mambo Kings is a movie about two Cuban musician brothers migrating to the USA and trying to make it as a band in the music world.
Although it is a classic drama, it still features a great amount of music. If you’re a Latin music lover, this movie will be your favorite. Armand Asante and Antonio Banderas both showcase their singing skills, and with added female voices, you’re in for a great emotional ride all the way through.
10. The Drummer
The Drummer is a Hong Kong movie, about a mobster’s son that has to be hidden on an island to protect him from blood revenge, where he starts turning his wishes from becoming a rock drummer to zen Buddhist drummer. In this movie, you will find a great combination of both rock and Buddhist traditional drumming, a sound which you most probably connect with Chinese folk music.
This is a great way to learn something more about Asian folk drumming and also about Buddhism itself.
11. The Strip
One of the iconic movies, The Strip is a tale about a drummer looking to move to Los Angeles and open his own club, only to get mangled with mobsters and get accused of murder.
Even though this is a crime, film-noir movie of that era, it still has a great deal of music in it, especially jazz. It’s a great showcase of the LA jazz clubs of the time, and if you’re a jazz drummer or want to learn something about jazz drumming, this movie is going to provide you with that. Drum solos in the movie are truly astonishing and the guest’s appearance of Louis Armstrong just makes everything better.
12. Sound of Metal
Sound of Metal is a movie about a drummer who slowly losses his hearing. The movie revolves around an avant-garde metal duo that travels across the US and does gigs. The drummer suffers from rapid hearing loss for which he can’t afford surgery.
The movie follows his journey throughout the whole process, dealing with the mental state and slowly finding his way back into a positive mainframe. A movie that depicts the horrifying condition of tinnitus and how it affects most musicians. One worth watching!
Hop is a 2011 animated comedy movie following the life of an Easter bunny who attempts to reach success as a drummer. A hilarious and interesting plot, to say the least. The Easter bunny refuses to fulfill his father’s whishes to take his place, instead, he pursues his own dream of becoming a drummer.
It’s good to sometimes reach into the world of animation for entertainment. An intriguing movie to watch when you want to break the norms of conventional comedy, and also have some music while you’re at it.
14. Tenacious D – The Pick of Destiny
Tenacious D – The Pick of Destiny is an all-time classic for music lovers. This fun and thrilling music film follows the journey and formation of ‘the greatest band in the world’.
Members JB (Jack Black) and KG (Kyle Gass) come to the conclusion that all the best bands in the world, particularly the best guitarists, used the same pick, and that’s why they were so good. They set out on a journey to find the pick of destiny while encountering the Devil (Dave Grohl) in an epic showdown. This movie is definitely worth your time!
15. Adventures of Power
Adventure of Power follows the life of Power, a young drummer as he pursues his passion and dream of becoming the best air-drummer in the world. A hilarious plot with a lot of drum material worked into it that just makes for a fun experience overall. The movie even features a competition between real drummers and air-drummers that just adds a more comedic sense and excitement.
This 2008 comedy movie is one to keep in mind if you’re on the hunt for a fun, drumming film experience.
Drumline is a 2002 comedy movie featuring Nick Cannon in the leading role as a street drummer from Harlem. The movie follows his journey and talent as he joins a Southern university and its marching band lineup.
While being an extremely talented drummer, the movie shows that talent is sometimes not good enough, instead hard work is needed to reach the next level. A fun movie experience for those looking for inspiration and entertainment at the same time!
17. Wayne’s World
Wayne’s World is a 1992 comedy following the adventures of Wayne Campbell and his buddy Garth Algar who are trying to promote their cable show. The movie features some of the best hits up until that time and makes for a fun and hilarious experience.
Drummers will certainly enjoy the prolific and not-anticipated drumming skills of Garth as he showcases his talents. A movie worth watching for a fun and entertaining time!
18. Step Brothers
Step Brothers is a 2008 American comedy film featuring Will Ferrell (Brennan Huff) and John C. Reilly Dale Doback). It revolves around two middle-aged men who become step-brothers as their parents get married.
Forced to live together, this film offers some hilarious material and scenes that will make you laugh uncontrollably. Probably the funniest scenes are regarding Dale’s drum set for which he has a no-touching rule, of course, Brennan violates this rule and gives the audience something to laugh about.
19. This is Spinal Tap
This is Spinal Tap is a rockumentary regarding the world’s loudest band. Spinal Tap are an English heavy metal group dubbed as the loudest band in the world and the movie is simply clever in its way of exaggerating the classic heavy metal scene.
Depicting classic band dilemmas like canceled gigs and arguments about their cover, this movie brings it tenfold when it comes to comedic genius. One worth watching for sure!
There are lots of movies that depict drummers and the work they do. Some of them are really fun and easy to watch, while others are a bit more serious and deep. All in all, lots of good movies for drummers on this list.
It’s great that this subject has been made into films that portray accurate portrayals of the drumming world – even if some might be slightly exaggerated. If you want an insight into the world of drumming this is certainly the place to look.
Check out all these movies above, lots of diversity here, and each one with its own unique story. From drumming movies all the way to animation, you’re sure to find a movie that suits your taste!