Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Starring: (if you can call it that) Justin Bieber
Director: Jon Chu
In 2008 Anvil! The Story of Anvil charted the twenty five year struggle of a metal band to achieve success, showing that despite their repeated rejection, their love of music kept them believing in their dream. This kind of story is common in the world of music, and the message given in Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is that everyone who’s experienced such adversity was completely wasting their time. As the title suggests, Bieber’s rise is shown to be one of great difficulty, an arduous journey which lasts for literally months, and involves Justin facing the seemingly insurmountable task of uploading a video of himself to YouTube. Needless to say, it’s a laughable comparison.
Obviously, Never Say Never is aimed squarely at those whose Bieber-fever has reached advanced stages, but the actual need for this film is extremely questionable. Bieber epitomises the new age of technology, and is seen Tweeting and blogging and whatever-elseing at numerous points throughout. He owes his success to YouTube, both for his initial discovery, and for his carefully cultivated image. His fans can know his every move and every thought, from the mundane (‘good morning world’) to the vaguely threatening (‘Kill it in LONDON usher. I will hold down Paris for u.’). This near unmitigated access begs the question of why make this film? The only real audience will be those who religiously follow him, and Never Say Never won’t tell them or show them anything new. It may sound cynical to suggest this is entirely a money-making exercise, but the fact that the film will be re-released at the start of March with a slightly altered soundtrack is damning evidence.
As a film, it caters perfectly for its target audience. There’s plenty of home videos of Bieber as a kid, so the tweens in the audience can go ‘Aww,’ 3D footage of Bieber’s concert at Madison Square Gardens is interspersed throughout, so they can go ‘Aww,’ and several swishy slow-mo shots of his fringe, so they can go ‘Aww’. For anyone else, it offers absolutely nothing, other than a stark reminder that modern music is less about lyrics and more about pretty hair. If you’re not a fan going in, you won’t be a fan when you come out, unless Bieber-fever is airborne.