Film Review – Never Say Never

Never Say Never (G)

Directed by: Jon Chu

Starring: Justin Bieber

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright


I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to avoid the Justin Bieber phenomenon. I wasn’t living completely under a rock, I was aware of him, but I had no idea how popular he was or how much of an impact he had on the lives of pre-teen girls. I had heard of his meteoric rise to fame thanks to the support of superstar Usher – but the story sounded more like an urban legend. I had not, however, heard a single song of his in its entirety.

Thanks to this behind the scenes look at his background, upbringing, popularity and preparations for a sold out concert at Madison Square Garden, I have heard several of his songs. I am still not a Belieber (that’s what the fans call themselves, another thing I have learned). His bubble gum pop style music left me with a tooth ache and an inclination to visit the dentist. But you have to admit the teenage heart-throb is a charming little fellow with more natural talent than 10 manufactured pop bands put together.

Starting out with a few home movie clips and interviews with his grandparents, we learn that Justin was a good kid who bonded with his grandfather. Justin also had a knack for picking up any instrument and mastering it without any formal lessons. Interviews with his manager and mum offer insight into his unexpected rising popularity through YouTube clips and the chance they took to have him carve out a music career at such a young age.

There is rehearsal footage, trips back to his home town in Canada where we visit his home, where he catches up with his mates and the flight of stairs he used to sing to locals on the street from. Some of the funnier parts are the comments that come out of the mouths of his young fans in on-the-spot interviews. Bieber fans say the darndest things. A nice tongue in cheek moment is the ode to his hair style and the quick flick of the neck he uses to get it just right. This is all intercut with rehearsal and concert footage.

Part of the thrill of the documentary and the kid’s story in general is watching his fan base grow from a few requests posted on YouTube asking for more videos to hordes of screaming fans on the street or a full house concert. It is all about as light and breezy as his music. Sorry cynics, the roughest time this kid has is dealing with a sore throat, not a cocaine addiction.

But hang on a minute, a Justin Bieber documentary without a single interview with Justin Bieber? Very strange indeed and this is a major flaw. We see the phenomenon around him, but how does he cope? Does he want this for the rest of his life? Does he ever just want to go back to a “normal” life? I guess we will never know. And I don’t think the fans particularly care either. It didn’t stop the preview audience from cooing at his baby photos, reaching out to touch him and screaming “I love you!” whenever he spoke.

There are worse things you could do with your time than spend a few minutes with this genuinely down to earth, charming and appealing chap. I am intrigued as to what kind of music he will make when he is old enough to graduate from syrupy pop music hell. Wait, maybe I am becoming a Belieber after all.

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