SCHOOL HOLIDAY MOVIE GUIDE
It’s vanilla times five in One Direction: This Is Us, writes Sara Stewart
THERE’S a moment in One Direction: This Is Us when we glimpse a band member – Liam? Louis? – backstage in his underwear, trying on pants.
‘‘Hey! Keep the lens up here!’’ he yells at the camera.
He’s kidding, but this does seem to be a primary directive in Morgan Spurlock’s ‘‘intimate allaccess look’’ at the British boy band: Sex must not be alluded to, even a little bit.
One thing’s for sure: ‘Down’ is not the direction referenced in the band’s name. These boys are up! They are cheerful and pleasant! They are ever more successful!
It’s a winning, if not novel, formula. The singles – Live While We’re Young, Best Song Ever – are infectious; the band is a global phenomenon. Everywhere they go, they’re greeted by unruly mobs of screaming, sobbing girls.
Hence the film’s shrug of a title. No ‘1D’ fan needs convincing about the infallibility of her idol – and his four, more mortal bandmates – and nobody else will go to see it anyway.
For the uninitiated: The band comprises five lads who all failed to win UK talent show The X Factor, but did manage to catch Simon Cowell’s eye. He corralled them, Avengers- style, to form a group with the superpowers of terrific hair and close-enough-to-perfect pitch.
Shot during their 2012-13 world tour, This Is Us captures the band onstage, occasionally justifying the 3D ticket-price markup with animated freezeframes or visible song lyrics. In surrounding footage, we see them just being them, which is as interesting as a long trip with any group of 19-yearold boys – minus cursing or talk of girls, booze or misdeeds. This basically leaves us with ‘‘Who farted in the bus’’ banter and clowning for the camera.
The biggest disappointment is unofficial frontman Harry Styles, who resembles a young Mick Jagger. Like Mick, Harry is said to have a way with the ladies (including Taylor Swift). Not that you’d hear a whisper about it here.
No personal revelations surface in This Is Us. No narrative, no conflict – no differentiation between band members, besides the designation of darkeyed Zayn as ‘‘the mysterious one’’ (he paints).
It’s hard not to laugh at the clip of a British TV host calling them as ‘‘slightly anarchic’’ – unless Harry being wheeled around in a bin by bandmates is a veiled comment on the British class system.
Also absent is director Spurlock’s quirky personality, except for one short sequence in which a nerdy scientist explains how dopamine works in the brain – i.e. what makes the tween girls shriek.
Interviews with the boys’ proud mums are a nice touch, as is the scene in which Zayn buys a house for his family. And, of course, the audiences get their due. ‘‘We have the best fans in the world!’’ says Niall (at least, I’m pretty sure it was Niall).
And he’s right. The power of social media made this group what it is and they seem appropriately thankful. They’re such nice boys! Still, just once it would have been good to see these popsters – as their own song advocates – go crazy crazy crazy till they saw the sun.
One Direction: This Is Us opens today.
Boy band One Direction reveal next to nothing in This Is Us.