Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Review by Jack Foley
THE Justin Bieber story may be an incredible one and his rise to fame may have heralded the beginning of a new era of pop star. But the singer’s new film Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is not particularly inspiring.
Yes, it showcases Bieber’s talents and the lengths to which he was prepared to go to achieve his dreams. Hence, from becoming a YouTube sensation at the age of 12, he was able to sell out New York’s Madison Square Garden by the age of 16.
But it’s a rose-tinted, hopelessly reverential affair that really is only designed to appeal to the singer’s fans. And for those who require a little more meat to their documentaries, it poses more questions than answers.
Jon Chu, hitherto best known for Step Up 2 and 3, attempts to combine concert footage showcasing Bieber’s live natural talent with the story of his rise, populating the film with archive footage, baby photos, audition reels and interviews with those closest to him (as well as some of his more demented fans). It’s all designed to make us coo and have a good time.
But while it does have its moments, there are glaring failures in what the film fails to address.
The lack of any real interview with Bieber himself is disappointing, as it would have been nice to hear from the singer himself on what it really means to be such a global music phenomenon at such a young age… and whether the reality of his new life sometimes hits hard.
But instead we’re left to ponder such things as Chu’s film only really hints at any emotional toll.
Hence, the reference to Madonna’s comment about Michael Jackson losing his childhood and the implications it carried for Bieber are also only really flirted with. Has he missed out on a childhood? And what must he really have felt at being told not to speak for a couple of days ahead of his Madison Square Garden gig?
Bieber, to his credit, seems remarkably charismatic and grounded but the film only opens the door so far onto his world… opting instead to spend large chunks of its time in the media friendly environment created by those closest to him.
Admittedly, this was never intended to be an expose style piece. But speak to Chu or manager Scooter Braun and they will insist this is more a documentary than it is a concert movie that’s designed to appeal to everyone (not just fans). Surely, then, it has more of a duty to be more probing.
Taken as a love letter to his fans, Never Say Never succeeds in providing them with 106 minutes of Bieber adoration. But beyond that demographic, it fails
to carry much weight.
Running time: 106mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 25, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Justin Bieber interview
- Never Say Never UK Premiere Photos
- Justin Bieber brings Bieber Fever to London