Dinosaurs. Sadly, they went the path of extinction long ago. Whether their demise was caused by one hypothesis or another, one thing’s for sure, they failed to adapt. Much like the dinosaur, the boy-band suffered fatality soon after the dominant predators like NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys gave into the ravages of time. With fame, riches and popularity waning, such creatures scattered from the safety of the herd to seek out sustenance for themselves. While the Timberlakes profited from solidarity, the Kirkpatricks fell into a forgotten void. There was no more safety in numbers for the less-talented or strange-looking members of the pack, and without their leaders, the boy-bands soon found themselves worthless and alone. The age of the boy-band had come to a close and the world was better for it.
Or so we had hoped. . .
To call One Direction: This is Us a documentary is like calling Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor historically accurate. At no point does such a film even bother to explore who these good-lookin’ tykes are, what they like and dislike and what sort of tribulations they’ve had to endure. Plain and simple, this is pure hagiography at its most shameless. If you’ve seen any one of their videos, read any bland article detailing their antics or have just happened to be within ear shot of anyone talking about them–you’ve already learned more than the entire 90 minutes of this gratuitous “film” will possibly offer.
Directed by Morgan Spurlock (because we all need to cash a one-million dollar check once in a while–those penthouses don’t pay for themselves!), This is Us follows the five boys as they tour the globe, control fans with the thrust of their hands (literally) and speak about their rise to fame. However, all of this content plays second fiddle to the live performances which embody most of the film’s painful runtime. On stage, the bubbly quintet blow kisses, jump around and are given an extra layer of flair via stylish editing and graphic design which flies at (and off) the screen so as to make use of the whole 3D schtick significant. It’s a wholly uninteresting affair and the fact that all of the special effects were added in post, proves that even the filmmakers knew that the theatrical antics of 1D were just too damn dull to be just shown “as is”.
Outside of the concert’s garish glow, each of the five collateral singers visit their parents (one buys his mother a home in a terribly scripted phone-call sequence), shop and, uh, hide in trashcans. Yeah. . . If that seems fun to you then please, by all means, pay an exorbitant amount for what you could see on Youtube for free. Just as the musical sequences enveloping them, the expository portions are simply not entertaining. I’m sorry, but a documentary SHOULD provide more insight into its subjects other than them having fun with limitless wealth. There’s no conflict here. There are no personal struggles. There is no tension between any of the five replaceables. It’s just them explaining how “crazy and cool” their fame is while they pose for pictures, fool around and play soccer (I’m sorry, football). It’s dull, uninspired and reinforces the truth regarding that such a “vision” only exist to be a 90 minute commercial of praise for the lucky lads–not a film whatsoever.
When three of the five boys aren’t spastically describing how much fun they’re having, Harry Styles and Zayne Malik are unenthusiastically and sometimes unintelligibly mumbling their way through scenes as their eyes dart about the room; seemingly bored with both the interview and fame altogether. What’s worse is the verbiage that spills from the mouths of family, friends and coworkers. During the “bitchy” portion of the tour, the boys recant how difficult it is to sing, dance and record music other people have written for you. Supporting them is their head of security who pours on the accolades as if they just prevented WWIII. He speaks of their strength and determination for performing as if it’s some sort of heroic feat; that they’re so strong for having an occasionally demanding schedule. Well, I’m just gonna put it out there, but when you’re paid ungodly amounts of money, given free passage around the world, loved by nearly every girl in the world, and gifted with fame and fortunes untold, I think–just THINK–that one could muster the strength to get up at zero dark thirty to record a song.
I mean, I find it audacious that anyone would even consider calling their lives “difficult”. They are literally being payed to do what they’re passionate about. I think that they should be thankful that tight schedules are the only dilemma they have to face. Even reporters get their two-cents in when they verbalize idiotic thoughts like, “1D has risen to fame even faster than the Beatles” Really? They seemed to have forgotten that, back in the day, cellphones didn’t exist. The internet didn’t exist. Twitter didn’t exist. Shows which literally compiled losers from a singing competition into a single band didn’t exist. The Beatles actually had to work and perform to acquire their fame around the world–each of them didn’t simply go onto a show as teenagers and have it literally given to them. This isn’t even considering the fact that even before 1D was 1D, each of them already had an established fan base from having performed on X-Factor. So, NO WONDER they could skyrocket to fame quicker than The Beatles.
It’s no secret that I dislike this band, but my frustration with them first and foremost stems from the music they create–I mean, that someone else develops and they perform. Each and every track they stick their voices on embodies so much of what I detest in the current generation’s brand of “popular” music. It’s brainless, devoid of creativity and worse–only serves to pander to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to cash-grab and brainwash stupidly naïve young people (for an example, watch Jimmy Kimmel’s Lie Witness News and their interviews with Bieber fans).
Understandably, This is Us wasn’t made for me. I get it. I’m not that demographic; I actually appreciate movies to be movies. However, to even consider calling this a documentary is a disservice to the medium as it hardly qualifies as anything more than an extended advertisement for the band. Little girls and fans will definitely jump at the chance to waste their parent’s money, but I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind actually choosing to witness such a shallow, unintelligent experience when theatres are already stocked with some truly spectacular flicks (one of which I reviewed previous to this). Several compelling documentaries on music/singers/bands have come out over the years (Some Kind of Monster, If All Goes Wrong, Searching For Sugar Man, Woodstock, etc.) that explore and question their subjects without the pandering drivel which is the money-fueled heart and soul of This is Us. I implore anyone with an interest in music to observe content such as those listed rather than something so hollow as this pathetic excuse for a film. Katy Perry must be thanking the stars above as now, her documentary isn’t the worst of its kind to come out in the last year.
As was the cycle before, I’m hoping this generation of boy-band will suffer a horrific extinction so that no one might have to suffer their inane lyrics ever again. . . At least until the next advent of boy singers rises from the ash of their forefathers that is.
One Direction: This Is Us is out now in cinemas
This article was first posted on August 29, 2013