Director: John Chu
Running Time: 105 minutes
Until today I knew very little about Justin Bieber. Of course I knew him is an online phenomenon, but outside of hilarious internet memes, an absolutely atrocious collaboration with Kanye West and a rumour that being exposed to him for long periods leads to a fever more contagious than the bubonic plague, I couldn’t tell you a song name or pick him out from a Glee cast line up. I didn’t fit the demographic for this film; a fawning teenage girl. At the screening, I was expecting two things, more faintings than a double bill of 127 Hours and Antichrist and for it to be far more painful to watch.
Part documentary and part concert movie, Never Say Never tells the quick rise to fame of the Stratford, Ontario native using home video footage of a young, well younger, Bieber displaying perfect rhythm and timing playing drums at the age of eight and an impressive aptitude for guitar at 11 which made him a YouTube sensation, interviews with his mentors Usher and Scooter Braun – that is no typo, his name is actually Scooter Braun – and footage from his 2010 My World Tour.
The film’s thinly veiled message that constant hard work leads you to realising your dreams – even if you’re dream is to sell out Madison Square Garden. We’re led to believe that Bieber struggled to get to where he is because he wasn’t a Mickey Mouse Club alumnus or didn’t have the backing of a famous father – his father in fact, split at an early age. Instead, the entirety of the film serves as a perfect anecdote for today’s get famous quick mentality.
It was reported that initially the director of An Inconvenient Truth David Guggenheim was to be calling the shots but in a likely career saving move he handed over the reins to Step Up 3D director John Chu. To his credit, Chu handles the concert footage with a smooth crispness, made even more impressive when viewed in the third dimension. The concert itself is made moderately watchable through appearances by artists like Ludacris and Boyz II Men – the latter you feel have reached their own end of the road and were in desperate need of a pay cheque.
For a younger – and intended – viewer, I’m sure this movie is the greatest thing to happen since The Jonas Brothers’ last film – feeling old anyone? The deafening screams of a few hundred teens over the sight of The Bieb flicking his hair in slow motion would attest to that. Never Say Never is clearly harmless fun for teens, it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble although you can’t help but feel they’d probably be more interesting people in the future if they stuck to the latter.
My one major gripe is saved for not the film itself but the certification and description given by the BBFC. It claims that the film contains “no material likely to offend or harm”. They must have had their fingers in their ears for about an hour and a half so.