I don’t think I was sent to the premiere screening of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never with the expectation that I would generate a positive review. I will satisfy those not expectations, but not for the reason you’d think. Yeah, the music sucks but I went in with the best intentions. I wanted to succumb to Bieber Fever and the movie never got me there.
It’s not really a concert film, which is good if you hate the music, but must be disappointing to the fans. Concert footage is intercut with the documentary footage, but the concert is really minimal. Bieber has 10 days to prepare for Madison Square Garden, so the film traces his origins to his success.
They had me going for a little while. I realized that Bieber Fever works in baby steps. They show you a little bit to make you think, “Oh yeah, that is some talent.” By the time you’re obsessed, you didn’t even notice it happening. You’d have to be pretty cold not to think the little fans are adorable. The under 8 ones at least, not the older teenagers.
They show how Bieber started with grass roots, going on the road and playing for local radio stations. He dominated local talent shows. He kept creating YouTube videos because they kept becoming more popular. That is a good message. Just keep creating. Don’t wait for something to happen for you, keep doing it. He was a good singer and drummer, he was good at sports too which is an unfair double threat. He could even solve a Rubik’s Cube.
I can respect that even if Bieber ended up singing generic pop songs of the Justin Timberlake variety. I mean, “One Less Warrior?” Come on. And “One Time” couldn’t sound less distinct. To be fair, I didn’t really hear the music. One, the acoustics at MSG suck, let alone reproduced on film and screened in the Nokia Theater. Also, all the little girls were screeching for everyone on screen, from Bieber’s vocal coach to the roadies.
Where Never Say Never really lost me was when they “stop” the film to yell at people in the audience texting. I know to this audience, that’s the first time anyone’s ever broken the fourth wall ever. That’s just when the film tried to get too cute. They had a legitimate documentary and then they indulged in slow motion 3D hair flipping.
By the way, you can take the 3D glasses off for any of the documentary or interview footage. It’s only really 3D in the concert, so you can see Bieber reach out into the audience.
With three days to go, Bieber gets sick so that’s either supposed to create tension for the big concert, or show how hard a singer’s life can be physically. The latter is legitimate but because we already know the concert happens, it feels hollow. Also, guest star Jaden Smith is identified as a karate expert. Make up your mind, was it karate or kung fu! And Bieber gives a few bucks to a little violin girl on the street. Hey rich kid, how about a fifty?