Socorro movie review: Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Directed by: Jon Chu
Starring: Justin Bieber
Showing nightly at the Loma Theater at 7:00 through March 25th
After the runaway success of Miley Cyrus's concert film "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert," teen music phenom Justin Bieber takes his turn at starring in his own film all about him. The film's target audience is his fans, and knowing most of his fans are too young to go to movies by themselves, there may be a single fan in the family, but the rest come along as a package deal. That being said, the only person who will truly enjoy this film is a fan of his music, as there are no other redeeming values to the film.
That's not to say this is simply a bad film, there are multiple levels to this documentary that actually made it interesting to me (which is not necessarily good.) The film revolves around Justin going from YouTube star to having a concert in Madison Square Garden in a remarkably short time. And I would say the high point to this film is Chu's competent hand as director, given the subject. Chu manages to frame a fairly engaging story of a young talent's meteoric rise to fame, with his show at the world renowned venue proving the arrival of a superstar. You can count on interspersed montages of Justin's fans (typically 'tween girls saying they will be Justin's wife,) old videos and pictures of Justin performing, playing basketball, hockey, or otherwise just playing around, and of course the obligatory C-list of celebrities excited to jump on the Justin fame train (including Miley Cyrus, and Snoop Dogg,) talking about what a great kid he is.
Front and center for me though is that this is a talented young musician who is being used and packaged to make a lot of people in the music business rich, and for that, I find the film a tragedy. From the earliest archive videos shown, his natural musical talent shines (he could keep a drum beat at age 3 better than I can now as an adult,) and his love for performing is obvious, but once the music moguls get a hold of him, he seems like a small fish in a tank full of sharks. The film attempts to show his entourage of trusted talent management as insulators to the predatory music business, but it doesn't do enough to convince me he won't be doing his first stint in rehab before he can vote in an election.
His mother is visible in many of the movie's scenes, with the intent of making it look like a wholesome family affair, but she has the terminal look of a deer stuck in headlights, and I can't tell if she is afraid for her son, or if she's mentally adding up the Loonies he is earning for her. Add to that his absentee father suddenly making an appearance in his life right about when his musical career takes off, and it all adds up to greedy sleaze being the driver behind his stardom.
At all times the film goes to lengths to portray him as a small town boy with moppish hair, not out of place hanging out at the mall, winning local talent competitions, or playing hoops at the park. This is noble enough, but the movie never lets us forget he is a performer, with musical tracks that need to be bought, and concert tickets that need purchasing, worth camping overnight in line for. Because of that, the film betrays its half-hearted intent as honest, non-partial documentary, and instead shows its true colors of marketing tool for a teen sensation, insulting the viewer's intelligence in the process.
You probably had an idea that this film was a shameless plug for Justin Bieber the product, and you're correct, I'm here only to confirm it for you. I would only see this movie if I were a fan, or if I was going along with a fan. This film has negligible date potential, unless of course your date loves Justin Bieber. Otherwise, this movie should be avoided at all costs.