Cadillac Records may play fast and loose with historical fact, but you can't fault the tunes that fuel it, say critics. The "rollicking and insightful celebration of Chicago blues in its hectic golden age" tells the story of Chess Records and bluesmen like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, writes AO Scott in the New York Times. Of particular note is Beyonce's "volcanic" portrayal of Etta James; she transforms herself into a "real diva of the old school."
Unlike many bloated music biopics, Cadillac Records stays "fast, crisp and lively" throughout, Rafer Guzman writes in Newsday, managing to pack in half a dozen stories, all of them fantastic—if not always strictly accurate. "It's best not to worry much about the film's fidelity to history," Kirk Honeycutt writes in the Hollywood Reporter, "but rather simply lean back and enjoy one great jam session on film."