There are a couple of ways to play this. If I was an admitted Bieber-phobe, this review could turn into a legitimate Bieber bash, ripping apart the tween sensation’s new after-school special of a film titled Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
“My vocal cords are so sore! I have to cancel shows! I don’t get any alone time with my friends! I’m afraid of missing out on my youth!”
The cynic in me could very easily respond to those Bieber grumbles with an eye roll and an F-U. Losing your youth? Boo-whoo. I, along with the majority of most any living, sane person, would trade your fortune for my childhood any day. Don’t like seeing your friends? Don’t do 87 shows a year. Stay at home. Shave your head. I don’t give a shit.
So there’s that side. The other, more pleasant side of this argument comes from the screaming mouths of Justin Bieber’s millions upon millions of fans. Those stricken with self-proclaimed “Bieber Fever” will rush to his new film by the masses, and they’ll enjoy every single overlong second of it. They’ll cry when he gets sad, they’ll swoon when he shows his bare chest, they’ll sing along to his poppy songs, and on and on.
Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. No, I do not, nor will I ever, enjoy the sound of Bieber’s music. But he’s not exactly trying to reach my demographic. What I do have, however is respect for this self-made 17-year-old boy wonder. (It’s a slight sliver of respect, but I’m trying here, okay?)
I respect the fact that an 8-year-old with no musical ancestry in his blood turned kitchen beats into enormously popular songs. All kids bang on pots in pans on the kitchen floor when they’re young. The difference here is, this particular kid became one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
Another thing I learned from the movie and admittedly admire is that Bieber (or “Beebs” as I like to call him) wasn’t afraid to throw himself out there when trying to make a name for himself. I respect that a 13-year-old kid would waltz right up to Usher and tell him that he’s going to be the next big thing. Or be utterly unphased when meeting the bosses of huge record labels. Is he cocky and sometimes arrogant? For sure. But can you show me a 16-year-old who isn’t a little full of himself?
In short, I think Beebs has a good business ethic and a decent head on his shoulders. No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to download his album (legally or otherwise) but it does mean that, for now, Beebs has one less critic to worry about.
And that, I’m afraid to say, is the only remotely good part about the film; the fact that it gives you a little insight into who this kid really is. From a film critic’s purely objective perspective, there isn’t anything special about Never Say Never. The 3-D effects, should you opt to pay more, are nonsexist save some title credits and digitalized confetti.
At 105 minutes, the movie runs entirely too long, and those dragged to it by their girlfriends or daughters will have to fight to stay awake, let alone remain interested.
But like Sarah Palin chanting “Drill Baby Drill,” the Beebs’ fanbase will explode in teenage ecstasy during the film’s many production numbers, including an encore of “Baby.”
One gapping element missing from the film: realism. I understand that everyone around Bieber needs to project an image of being an eternal optimist, but honestly, they cannot all seriously believe that Bieber has a full lifetime of show business ahead of him. He’s got five maybe 10 years before fans move on. It’d be good for him to realize that now; it’ll sting a lot less in the long run. D+