What is it about Justin Bieber that makes teen girls across the country go crazy? If that’s a question you’ve been asking yourself, you should probably see Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. While not the best film in the world, it reveals Bieber in ways I never expected to see. Given the nature of many pop stars, it’s easy to assume that Bieber is a manufactured product, but it’s not that simple. The kid has true talent; he can sing, dance and play piano, guitar and drums. He’s not particularly masterful in any of those areas, but combine them and you have something that works. Contrary to what many are saying will happen, I haven’t caught Bieber Fever after watching this movie—his music is still trivial bubblegum pop (and with lyrics like, “Baby, baby, baby, oh. Baby, baby, baby no!” he’s not exactly a visionary)—but I have a newfound respect for the kid.
And that respect stems from the impression he made on me. Using old home videos, the movie shows that he has always had the music bug in him. At a time when he couldn’t have been more than three years old, he was pounding away on chairs with his hands, but not in the hectic way most kids do. He was actually keeping a beat. He became so obsessed with rhythmic sound that he stood around and watched as adults played their instruments and before he knew it, he was sitting behind his own drum set and making music while other kids were still banging pots and pans. Justin Bieber is a prodigy in every sense of the word.
That fact is not readily noticeable to those who have only witnessed his stints on MTV, but the largest thing the uninitiated will be surprised by after witnessing Never Say Never is just how huge he truly is. I knew he was popular, but never realized the magnitude of that popularity. As clips in the film show, his mere presence turns fans out in droves, causing a type of pandemonium that can easily be compared to Beatlemania in the 1960’s. Even if you aren’t a fan of his music, even if you feel about it the way I do, you'll be able to see the joy he brings to his fans. You'll see just how far he goes to please those who love him and when he lets them down, he seems genuinely upset. What Never Say Never does is take a larger-than-life star and make him a normal person. This is not a particularly insightful movie—it rarely deviates from its focus on his then upcoming Madison Square Garden performance—but you get a sense of his true personality, not just what you see on television.
Then again, documentaries never fully capture true life. When a camera is placed in front of somebody, it’s only natural to act out and you can’t help but feel like that is sometimes happening here. Bieber is a 16 year old kid, rambunctious and wild, but when he jumps in a forklift and tries to start it while his security guard stands there and watches, it feels like we aren’t seeing reality. It feels scripted because, unless that security guard is extremely neglectful (which would defeat his entire purpose), this would never happen.
Although a documentary by definition, Never Say Never is also a live concert film, with footage from that big Madison Square Garden performance interspersed periodically throughout. In this regard, it’s not the most streamlined movie you’ll see this year. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to call this a movie at all. It meanders here and there, jumping from Bieber’s upbringing to his rise to stardom and everything in between. It’s more like one of the many music DVD’s you can find at your local retailer and, coincidentally, if this were about anyone other than Justin Bieber, one of those retail stores would be the only place this movie would be available. But I have to admit, Justin Bieber won me over and I’ve come to admire the young man, even if I do think his music is terrible.
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never receives 3.5/5