Keepin’ it Reel: ‘The Justin Bieber Movie’

Now playing in 3D at Providence Place

I must admit, I’d originally all-but-written this review even before I saw Never Say Never. From the crack about never having asked the BDH for a film refund until now, to the effusively praising and transparently sarcastic tone, to even the requisite Tiger Beat photo; it was all planned out. But at some point in my sitting alone in a theater full of exuberant girls and their exasperated parents (and some 35 year old woman who seems to have come of her own volition..), a more intriguing question began to plague me: Why read this review?

We all already know it’s shit – it has a sequence devoted entirely to his hair, replete with a twinkling sound effect. The gratuitous 3D transfer shows itself almost exclusively in the credits and the various times when JBiebz longingly reaches out to the crowd…and the instance when, during his performance of the titular song, the words NEVER SAY NEVER fly at you in giant concrete and explode inexplicably. The film itself consists primarily of 3 elements:

  1. Baby photos
  2. Prepubescents and the occasional housewife screaming and/or crying
  3. Over-extended clips of his show at Madison Square Garden (not mutually exclusive with either 1 or 2)

Worst of all is the sincerity of the affair. At 16, the star in question has no struggles to shape a film around, except a possibly-manufactured throat infection. So they go the “Fame is tough for a kid” route; apparently, you have to give up a lot to hang out with Usher and have a bowl of Sweet Tarts ready for you in your dressing room. It does get serious when we hear that his dad left him as a kid, but somehow he’s in the background throughout, eagerly lapping up his requisite 15 minutes. At another point, his grandfather cries. Most touchingly, JB himself takes a visit back to his hometown, making sure to visit his old YMCA. “This is my old stomping grounds,” he says. “This is where we used to shoot ball and work our abs.” He also made sure to autograph his 7th grade locker. Nice kid.

So do the makers of this film just not get it? That they’re peddling a joke? I can’t tell. After his concert at Madison Square Garden, Bieber walks down a backstage hallway with photos of past performers, including those of Michael Jackson, and Elvis. And as news came out this week that LCD Soundsystem is playing its final concert in MSG, I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference was. I had screamed like a little girl at LCD last semester. So who am I to come into Never Say Never, point at the screen, and say, “You see that? That’s shit!”

I hope the readers of this review got a laugh out of it, I sincerely do. But at the times when I wasn’t laughing or sleeping (at the last song), I felt guilty. These Bieberites are our children, our neighbors, and our kooky aunts. For us to laugh at other people isn’t going to cut it, we have to get down in the trenches and work hard. I may not understand it, but I do at least “get it” now. Still, I hope that doesn’t preclude my getting a refund.


  1. Zack Mezera (Author)

    PS: Dancing my way out of the theater, I could think of no more desperate time to have James Murphy’s chubby, time-worn wisdom cleansing my ears. Unfortunately, only the left side of my headphones have worked since November. Yet today – miraculously – they both worked, and I couldn’t stop smiling all the way home.

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