Justin Bieber: A Vague Presence in His Own Origin-Myth Doc

More bangs for the buck: Justin Bieber reaches out.
Paramount Pictures
More bangs for the buck: Justin Bieber reaches out.

Details

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Paramount Pictures
Opens February 11

The Bieber movie, a concert experience and origin-myth documentary, is not good—not that it needs to be. It is draggily paced and lacks felicity of form; the 3-D is a rip-off and the songs are pap, save a snippet of Etta James singing “At Last” while Bieber’s glossy fringe sways in slow-motion. The buildup to a Madison Square Garden climax-concert roughly structures Never Say Never; a throat infection creates the threat of cancellation, before “Get well” Tweets reinforce Bieber’s rededication to showbiz grind and “u,” the fans. Interspersed is a retelling of Bieber’s journey, from small-town boy in Stratford, Ontario, to the outbreak of Bieber Fever. A convincing case is made that the YouTube phenom was a talented kid with a knack for sponging up Top 20 radio styles when promoter “Scooter” Braun discovered him. From there, the movie admiringly details the stoking of a phenomenon by Braun and Team Bieber; ennobling marketing hustle, JB: NSN is A Hard Day’s Night half devoted to Brian Epstein. There’s no scrimping on the Bieber here—we see him serenading onstage, shirtless in the dressing room, in home videos, and in “candid” hometown visits—but he’s a curiously vague presence, obscured in the shadow of this monument to his brand.

 
 

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