Whether you are looking for inspiration to start playing your drum set again, or simply hoping to live vicariously through the characters on screen, sometimes there is nothing better than a good drum movie.
In this article, I’ll present a comprehensive list of the best drumming movies of all time for you to enjoy.
Sound of Metal
The most recent addition to this list and one of the most powerful drumming movies of all time is 2019’s Sound of Metal.
Directed by Darius Marder and co-written by Marder and Derek Cianfrance, the film stars Riz Ahmed as Ruben Stone, the drummer in a metal duo alongside his girlfriend, Lou Berger, who is played by Olivia Cooke.
While drumming is central to the plot, the story is ultimately focused on Ruben as he loses his hearing and attempts to come to terms with his new life.
One of the most critically acclaimed drumming films of all time, Sound of Metal won two Academy Awards and two BAFTA Awards, while Riz Ahmed was also nominated for Best Actor at both ceremonies.
Any credible list of the best drumming movies ever made must include Whiplash. This film was released in 2014 and features a great cast of well-known actors, including Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, and Melissa Benoist.
Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle, stormed onto the cinematic scene and the film showcases the gripping story of a young jazz drummer determined to achieve perfection.
The film received three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Simmons, and received almost universal acclaim from film publications.
It tells the story of Andrew Neiman (Teller), an ambitious jazz drummer, and his relationship with Terence Fletcher (Simmons), his ruthless and abusive instructor at Shaffer Conservatory in New York City. The movie also has a phenomenal soundtrack, which includes original jazz pieces written and performed specifically for the film.
A nail-biting climax saw audiences on the edge of their seats who became enchanted with its gritty depiction of musical ambition and integrity.
Wayne’s World, released in 1992, is an American comedy film, based on a sketch from Saturday Night Live, and it enjoyed both critical and commercial success.
The story centers on two heavy metal-obsessed friends, Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, who host a popular local access cable network TV show from Wayne’s parents’ basement.
One of the film’s most iconic scenes sees the character of Garth, played by Dana Carvey, launch into an impressive drum solo in a music store. As the solo goes on, the background shifts as Garth imagines himself on stage, before the background shifts back to reality. After being told he is amazing, he gives an understated: “Thanks. I like to play.”
Carvey is an accomplished drummer in real life and the solo in the film was genuinely played by him.
Another outstanding drumming and percussion movie comes in the form of 2002’s Drumline, starring Nick Cannon and Zoe Saldana.
The teen drama tells the story of Devon Miles, a recent high school graduate, played by Cannon. He attends Atlanta A&T University on a scholarship, and gets caught up in a marching band rivalry with Morris Brown College.
Faced with challenges and rivalry from his fellow band members, Devon strives to prove himself as one of the best drummers in the band. As he navigates through intense rehearsals, competitions, and personal conflicts, Devon learns valuable lessons about discipline, teamwork, and perseverance.
With electrifying performances and infectious rhythms, Drumline showcases the passion and talent required to excel in the world of marching bands.
Alongside the music, it’s a great coming-of-age story with some excellent performances, which helped to earn the movie nominations for two MTV Movie Awards and three Teen Choice Awards, as well as a CinemaScore A+ rating.
Count Me In!
Count Me In is a documentary film that explores the world of rock drumming and celebrates the passion and artistry behind this instrument.
The documentary showcases the personal stories and experiences of renowned drummers, offering insights into their love for drumming and the impact it has had on their lives.
Through interviews, performances, and behind-the-scenes footage, Count Me In captures the essence of the drumming community and the power of human connection through music.
Whether you’re a drummer yourself or simply a music enthusiast, the film provides an engaging and educational experience, allowing you to appreciate the skill, creativity, and sheer talent of these drumming legends.
In addition to its captivating content, “Count Me In” has received positive reviews from both critics and viewers. Its uplifting and positive message resonates with audiences, making it a must-watch for drummers and music lovers alike.
A 2008 comedy, written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, Step Brothers explores the relationship between Brennan Huff and Dale Doback, two 40-year-olds who still live with their parents, and who are forced to live together as step brothers after their parents fall in love and get married.
While not solely focused on drumming, this movie features some memorable drum scenes that add to its comedic appeal.
The characters played by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly attempt to form a band and showcase their questionable musical talents, including their drumming skills. Despite lacking in technical proficiency, their enthusiasm and absurdity make for entertaining moments throughout the film.
One of the highlights of the movie occurs after Dale warns Brennan not to touch his beloved drum set. Of course, Brennan does so anyway, playing the drums in a hilarious scene, and Dale is immediately suspicious after noticing a small chip on one of his drum sticks. What follows must be the greatest fight over a drum set ever committed to film!
Step Brothers offers a humorous take on drumming, adding a lighthearted touch to the list of top drumming movies.
A Drummer’s Dream
A Drummer’s Dream is a 2010 documentary film from John Walker, which focuses on the 2008 Nasyrium Drum Camp founded by Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyyr.
At the camp, attended by aspiring drummers, he is backed by a host of top percussionists, including Horacio Hernadez, Kenwood Dennard and Dennis Chambers.
In addition to exploring the camp itself, the documentary features some superb performances spanning a variety of different drumming styles.
With exhilarating performances and insightful interviews, this film offers an intimate look into the lives of these talented musicians. As they showcase their skills and demonstrate what it means to be a master drummer, A Drummer’s Dream leaves audiences inspired and in awe of the power of rhythm.
Beyond all else, the documentary captures the love the musicians have for their drum kits and explores the necessary balance that must exist between technical skill and the love of playing.
The Rocker may have performed poorly at the box office, but it is still a good choice for anyone with an interest in fun, feel-good drum movies!
Released in 2008, it stars Rainn Wilson as Robert Fishman, an aspiring drummer who is ditched by his band, Vesuvius, as they chase a record deal.
Fast-forward 20 years and Vesuvius have become global stars, while Fishman has ceased playing the drums entirely. That is until his nephew’s band, A.D.D, needs a replacement when their regular drummer is suspended from school. After enjoying local success and signing a record deal of their own, A.D.D provides Fishman with a shot at redemption.
With Fish’s drumming skills and infectious energy, he helps the band achieve success while rediscovering his passion for music.
This feel-good comedy will have you laughing and tapping your feet to the beat.
Studio 666 is an American horror comedy film released in 2022, directed by BJ McDonnell and featuring the legendary rock band Foo Fighters.
This entertaining movie revolves around the band’s decision to move into a mansion with a dark and gruesome history in order to record their highly anticipated 10th album.
As they begin the recording process, supernatural forces emerge, threatening both the completion of the album and the lives of the band members. The film combines elements of horror, comedy, and rock music to create a unique and entertaining experience for viewers.
Studio 666 captures the essence of the rock music scene and the energy that comes with live performances. And drumming takes center stage, serving as a driving force throughout the film.
It offers a fresh and entertaining take on the genre, appealing to a wide range of audiences, including both music enthusiasts and fans of horror and comedy films.
Beware of Mr. Baker
Another excellent documentary film, Beware of Mr. Baker was directed, written and produced by Jay Bulger and sees the legendary jazz and rock drummer Ginger Baker reflect on his career.
The film was made following a period where Bulger lived with Baker in South Africa, conducting hours of interviews for an article he was writing.
Featuring contributions from Eric Clapton and Charlie Watts, Beware of Mr. Baker is a great choice for anyone interested in reality-based drumming movies.
It provides viewers with fascinating insights into the life of one of music’s most controversial figures, while also capturing what made him such an iconic, groundbreaking figure in the first place.
Sound of Noise
If you are looking for the ultimate percussion movie, look no further than Sound of Noise.
Released in 2010, this charming comedy was written and directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson and expands on a short film, Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers, which was created by the same duo back in 2001.
Sound of Noise focuses on six “guerrilla percussionists”, who put on disruptive anarchist music performances in the city of Stockholm.
To do this, they use their skills to create music using a variety of ordinary objects that would not usually be considered musical, including oxygen tanks in a hospital, and a paper shredder in a bank.
That Thing You Do!
Released in 1996, That Thing You Do! stars Tom Hanks, Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler and Charlize Theron, and features cameos from Kevin Pollak, Bryan Cranston, Rita Wilson and more, meaning it is among the most star-studded movies about drumming – and music in general – ever made.
The plot itself centers around Guy Patterson, a jazz drummer who fills in for another drummer at a talent show for a band called The Oneders.
This then begins the story of the band, later re-branded The Wonders, as they sign a record deal, have a hit single, and become known as a one-hit wonder band.
With catchy music and a nostalgic 1960s setting, this film is both entertaining and inspiring for jazz drummers and music lovers alike.
Adventures of Power
The 2009 film Adventures of Power must be among the most unique drumming movies ever created.
Starring Ari Gold, Michael McKean and Jane Lynch, it tells the story of Power, played by Gold, who engages in compulsive air drumming, having been raised in a family that was too poor to buy him a drum kit of his own.
This compulsion takes Power on a quest to conquer the world of competitive air drumming. Described by some critics as a combination of This is Spinal Tap and Napoleon Dynamite, it should hold particular appeal for any drummers who happen to be fans of either of those films. It also features a cameo from the late great Neil Peart.
This Is Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary that follows the fictional rock band Spinal Tap as they embark on a disastrous tour.
While not primarily focused on drumming, this iconic film features several memorable scenes showcasing the band’s drummer, such as their infamous “Stonehenge” performance blunder and the humorous discussion about drummers always dying in bizarre accidents.
With its satirical take on the music industry and hilarious portrayal of exaggerated rockstar antics, “This Is Spinal Tap” has become a cult favorite among fans of both comedy and music.
Airheads is a comedy film from 1994 that follows the story of a struggling rock band called The Lone Rangers.
Desperate for their big break, the band members decide to hold a radio station hostage in an attempt to get their demo tape played on air.
Chaos ensues as they navigate through unexpected challenges and hilarious situations, providing plenty of laughs along the way.
With its energetic and humorous storyline, “Airheads” offers a lighthearted take on the music industry while showcasing the passion and determination of aspiring musicians.
These drumming movies have captured the hearts of audiences and showcased the talent and passion of drummers.
These top drumming movies have garnered critical acclaim and popularity among audiences worldwide. From the intense and gripping performances in “Whiplash” to the infectious energy of “Drumline,” these films have captivated viewers with their portrayal of drumming culture.
These movies have also helped to contribute to the legacy of drumming in popular culture, inspiring future filmmakers to create more exciting and captivating stories centered around this musical instrument.
Whether you’re a drummer yourself or simply appreciate drumming these movies are a must-watch for any fan of the instrument.