This is an exceptionally well-made concert film that tells a contemporary fairy tale with a poppy, irresistible sensibility, the story of Justin Bieber’s rise to fame.
Chortle if you will but Bieber is a phenomenon, an eerily awesome combination of grace, will, talent and open heartedness; a country boy now swaying armies of young girls around the world, who headlined and sold out the fabled Madison Square Garden at the tender age of 16.
The film raises many intriguing aspects of Bieber’s rise, first and foremost being the fact that he is surrounded by a loving family and road crew, he is in safe hands, he is disciplined like any other kid, he cleans his room at his grandparents’ Stratford, Ontario house, roughhouses with his devoted staff backstage and stays friends with his childhood buddies.
It’s one big, two hour lump in the throat of feel-good wonderfulness with catchy tunes.
Bieber is the undisputed social media star of all time. He has 4.5M Twitter followers and conscientiously keeps them cared for, entertained, and up to date. The point is raised that it took *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys years to make it; it literally took Bieber months because of his – and his fans use of social media. You think The Beatles came fast and hard? This country boy’s way out in front.
Even his discovery is fairy tale-esque. Manager Scooter Braun saw him perform on homemade YouTube videos and immediately began searching for him. He found him in suburban Ontario, signed him and took him to an Atlanta recording studio.
Usher happened to walk by them and into the studio but rebuffed Bieber’s offer to sing him one of his own tunes. Soon afterwards, Bieber had another chance to sing for him; this time, Usher listened and was knocked out, and got into the Bieber business by signing him to his recording label.
The film pays attention to the loving environment in which Bieber grew up – his doting grandparents and adoring single mother and the tears shed by his father seeing him perform in Toronto. It spotlights his crew’s personal and professional dedication to him and their playfulness, ever mindful that even if he is a working man, he’s still just 16.
He has a big heart too – he pauses to talk to a very young and surprised violinist playing outside Stratford Ontario Avon Theatre, who was in the same spot where he used to play his guitar and sing for passers-by not that long ago. His childhood friends are still a big part of his life, and he and his mom and grandparents just can’t get enough of each other.
Extensive use of home video helps flesh things out – grainy images of a very young Bieber, perhaps three or four, banging out some sophisticated beats on the drums like a pro, making the hair on your arm stand up – what kind of child is this? He mastered drums, piano, guitar and voice work at a preternaturally young age. No wonder he’s so successful.
Bieber’s story is one in a billion, lightning in a bottle, and he’s successor to the crown, long may be entertain.
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Director John Chu
Opens Feb. 11