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SXSW (At Home): ‘The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon’ Review

From Ronald Reagan to Debbie Gibson, Mojo was not afraid to talk about anybody.

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Mojo Nixon is a familiar name even to those who have never heard any of his songs. His brash personality and outrageous songs always kept Mojo on the musical radar. These are also the things that would make a documentary about the psychobilly rocker so interesting. The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon is a look at the career of one of punk’s most outlandish figures. It is a look at an untamed career that invaded MTV at the height of its relevance. It also details the aftermath after a controversial video led to him being banned.

Director Matt Eskey makes the odd decision to start The Mojo Manifest in the middle. This does do a great job of introducing audiences to Mojo and his philosophy. It also becomes clear very quickly, anyone watching is in for a wild ride. Still, it is a little weird when the documentary suddenly circles back to the beginning. Ultimately, it does not seem to serve a purpose.

Mojo is the absolute highlight of the film. His over the top personality is on full display. There are the expected talking heads, but Mojo tells his own story. This includes an amazing origin story that includes voodoo, Richard Pryor, and graveyards. The Mojo Manifesto rises above its standard presentation thanks to its wild subject.

The documentary is filled with musical interludes. An argument can be made they are too long and the interspersed clips definitely seem to have no rhyme or reason. That actually plays into the theme of The Mojo Manifesto, however. The seeming lack of cohesion and arbitrary nature accentuate the devil may care attitude of Mojo’s life.

Overall, The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon is a fun documentary. The film highlights the personality of Mojo. The pacing and style of the documentary fit the randomness of Mojo’s music. It also has some great photos and clips that give further insight. This documentary is a great jumping off point for anyone who has never heard the music of Mojo Nixon.


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