Film a one-di­men­sional look at Bri­tish boy band

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Roger Moore

YOU could be for­given for rolling your eyes at the news that last sum­mer’s flashy pre-fab pop phe­nom­e­non One Di­rec­tion would be re­leas­ing a con­cert doc­u­men­tary this sum­mer.

For­given by ev­ery­one save their fans, who might pout for sug­gest­ing that one sum­mer’s boy-band craze is the next sum­mer’s old news.

But One Di­rec­tion: This is Us still has a pop­u­lar­ity wave to ride a full year af­ter What Makes You Beau­ti­ful and Live While We’re Young dom­i­nated the air­waves. So stop the eye-rolling.

This film cap­tures the five Bri­tish lads hand-picked by Si­mon Cow­ell to go where NKOTB, Boyz II Men, Back­street Boys and ’N Sync have gone be­fore — up the charts and into are­nas around the world. Caught at their peak, they come off as the clean­cut ful­fil­ment of mil­lions of teen and tweenage girl fan­tasies.

It’s not that dif­fer­ent from the Justin Bieber doc, or the Jonas Broth­ers and Mi­ley Cyrus con­cert films — san­i­tized and pack­aged — pre­sent­ing th­ese five Bri­tish and Ir­ish boys, ages 19-21, as paragons of pop virtue while oth­ers vouch for what “rebels” they are, and that they have “edge.”

Yeah, they’ve got vast tat­too col­lec­tions and they’re not shy about los­ing a shirt and yank­ing each other’s trousers down on stage in chore­ographed bits of tom­fool­ery. We see Harry, Liam, Louis, Zyan and Niall bond­ing on a tour bus across Europe, a camp­ing trip in Swe­den and the oc­ca­sional stroll down a pub­lic street — un­til they’re rec­og­nized and mobbed.

They mar­vel at their sud­den fame, don dis­guises and work as ush­ers at a venue here and there.

They travel to Africa to show their char­i­ta­ble side. Harry Styles goes back to the Cheshire bak­ery where he used to work the counter to serve a few cus­tomers. And be­ing all of 21 or so, they rem­i­nisce: “Re­mem­ber when we Di­rected by Mor­gan Spur­lock McGil­livray, Polo Park, St. Vi­tal, Towne G 93 min­utes

out of five met at boot camp?” That was where they were brought to­gether, re­hearsed and trained to be pop stars by Cow­ell & co.

In­die film­maker sell-out Mor­gan Spur­lock ( Su­per Size Me) shows us how 1D were re­cruited by Cow­ell on Bri­tain’s X-Fac­tor tal­ent show, how a cadre of hard­core first-gen­er­a­tion fans amped up en­thu­si­asm for them in the U.K. be­fore they even had a record out, how much they’ve changed their par­ents’ lives (buy­ing them houses, etc.) and how much fun they have to­gether as mates on what one de­scribes as a “Ben­jamin But­ton” jour­ney — peak­ing at 20, real­iz­ing it’s all “back­ward” and down­hill from here, lads.

It’s a chip­per, cheer­ful por­trait with nary a dis­cour­ag­ing word in it. And af­ter Katy Perry’s much more re­veal­ing and dra­matic Part of Me film, it’s dis­ap­point­ing Spur­lock didn’t have the ac­cess, the footage or the spine to de­pict any of the cyn­i­cism be­hind such cre­ations, which are man­u­fac­tured by pop Sven­galis like Mau­rice Starr (New Kids on the Block, et al), Lou Pearl­man (Back­street Boys, ’N Sync) and Cow­ell.

The tunes are catchy, and the 1D boys have charm, a lit­tle wit about them and some stage pres­ence, even if their shows have all the spon­tane­ity of a McDon­ald’s menu.

Not that their fans want to hear that, or hear they have a limited shelf life. Oh no. They never let us for­get it’s a teenage girls’ world, we’re all just wear­ing earplugs in it.


This is Us doesn’t of­fer much new for One Di­rec­tion fans.

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