There comes a moment in everyone’s life when they take a step back from the chaos of the real world and ask, “What am I doing with my life?”
I had about a million of those during “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.”
The movie, which opened in theaters Feb. 11, follows everyone’s favorite floppy-haired Canadian as he prepares for a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. Interwoven in this narrative is the teen sensation’s origin story in documentary form, from his earliest days of learning the drums to his first YouTube video.
The movie doesn’t get off to a solid start. The first minutes of the film are insanely over-produced, making Bieber’s short journey to fame appear as epic as “The Ten Commandments.” The documentary then cuts to Bieber performing a cover of The Cardigans’ hit ’90s song “Lovefool” for a sold-out crowd full of screaming teenage girls and their irritated parents.
This was about the time I first started reassessing my life.
As a concert film, the movie is definitely lacking. No matter how much director Jon Chu tries to make it seem fun by including excessive shots of adoring fans and 3-D images, it’s just not enough to merit an entire film built around it. It’s only a concert, not an experience.
The film’s greatest flaw, however, comes in the documentary portions. The movie is about Bieber in the most literal sense possible — the star is the subject, not a participant, barely ever addressing the camera or speaking at all. Instead, Bieber’s many handlers do most of the talking, leaving him just as much of an enigma as he was before the movie started.
But “Never Say Never” does have some redeeming qualities. Bieber’s backstory is actually quite compelling, and the kid does admittedly have some talent. There’s even a brief sequence in the film that shows Bieber’s drum skills evolve over the years, which is pretty cool to watch.
In another surprising twist, the movie features a couple of genuinely humorous scenes. Bieber seems to have a refreshingly self-deprecating sense of humor — possibly noticeable in his Super Bowl commercial with Ozzy Osbourne — and the movie depicts this effectively.
That said, the line of the movie goes to famed music producer L.A. Reid, who at one point refers to Bieber as “the Macaulay Culkin of music.” I legitimately laughed out loud at the line, but silenced myself after realizing I was the only one laughing because I was probably the only person in the theater old enough to know who Culkin is.
Cue another life assessment.
There are also a few moments where the film actually achieves its implied purpose: an interesting and insightful look into the life of a teen star. The most notable involves Bieber’s primary benefactor, Usher, who offhandedly tells Bieber that he won’t be 16 forever. The line is presumably meant in jest, but Bieber looks visibly unnerved, reminding us how young the pop star truly is.
Tragically, these moments are few and far between. For the most part, “Never Say Never” is just fan service, and unless you are a fan, you’ll feel left out in the cold.
Now, if you excuse me, I have to go find my dignity.