Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Justin Bieber, Boys II Men and Miley Cyrus
Teen pop sensation Justin Bieber has got it right (to some extent) – never say never – even when it comes to seeing a documentary based on his life and quick rise to fame. Because while Jon M. Chu’s biography-concert documentary on Bieber will no doubt lure crazed fans of the young female variety, like a pack of rats swarming behind the tunes of Pied Piper, the film also attracts the attention of non-beliebers. Rather than focus on the star’s unexciting personality and personal life, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never turns its camera on a more intriguing phenomenon – Bieber’s love-struck fans. The level of crazy that Bieber is able to inspire warrants an investigation into pop and fan culture, as well as an interesting look at how strategic media marketing and publicity can truly take off with the help of the internet, radio, television, and now, film.
While its easy for people to trash-talk Justin Bieber’s music, there is no denying that this kid is a born performer. Drawing from home video footage, Never Say Never opens with baby Bieber drumming on a chair. He is uncannily passionate about it, and doesn’t miss a beat. Growing up with an overwhelming amount of love from his mother and grandparents, Bieber was free to pursue his interest in music by jamming with his church band and singing at local talent quests. And in all of this, his mother did a very smart thing for her son’s career and this documentary. She filmed everything. Bieber’s musical talent was transferred to Youtube and soon landed in the hands of keen producers and managers who could then convert this into money rain.
Never Say Never covers a good measure of Bieber’s history, present, and what he projects in the future. Expertly piecing together footage from his childhood, concert preparation, and a variety of interviews, Jon. M. Chu sustains the film’s running time by trying to observe Bieber’s world from multiple angles. While the teen’s prankstery personality (bordering on obnoxious) and stage performances get a little exhausting, Never Say Never does present a fascinating look at how quickly something like Bieber fever can spread. In terms of examining media frenzy and how successful a marketing campaign can be, Never Say Never is thought-provoking at best. While the film doesn’t necessarily explore how the appeal of Bieber actually works or how powerful new media has gotten in recent times, the questions surrounding these ideas naturally arise. Whether that was intentional or not, it doesn’t matter. It makes this documentary passable.