.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Justin Bieber

Directed by John Chu
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2
Community: star rating
5 2 0
14
February 11, 2011

Never Say Never is a documentary that takes us into the factory that manufactured Justin Bieber. Don't get me wrong. Bieber has energy, musicianship, a smile as thick and full as his hair, and genuine comic flair (check him out with Dana Carvey's Church Lady on SNL). But isn't 16 (he'll hit 17 on March 1st) a little young for a cinematic monument? Just sayin'.

Gallery: A History of Heartthrobs on the Cover of Rolling Stone

Yes, fans, Never Say Never is also a 3D concert film to delight the shy 13-year-old with braces that lives in all of us. Bieber fever spikes big time when our star pulls a fan from the audience at every show to sing "One Less Lonely Girl." Still there are tolerance levels to consider. The Bieb croons "baby baby baby baby" more times than Lindsay Lohan pleads "not guilty." After a while the movie starts to feel like lethal injection by bubblegum.

Peter Travers reviews Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in his weekly video series, "At the Movies With Peter Travers."

There is a mitigating "but." Never Say Never exerts a tantalizing, even perverse, fascination even without meaning to. Not in the concert scenes, which gin up suspense by making us that think that JB's throat infection might stall his Manhattan concert debut at Madison Square Garden. Talk about a fake out. It's Bieber's own story that pulls you in. He was born in Canada to a teen mom, Patti Mallette, dad, Jeremy Bieber, moving on to marry and have two more children. Home movies show us a talented tot drum beating a chair. YouTube videos show that gift develop enough to attract Scooter Braun as a manager and Usher as a mentor. The movie, with appearances by all of the above, barely skims the surface of those years. What we do see is mom, dad, Braun, Usher, vocal coach Mama Jan Smith and the burgeoning Team Bieber claiming they only want the best for the boy as he goes through a punishing 84-date concert tour. Group hug.

The 10 Worst Movies of 2010

The most telling moment in the film comes when Bieber and Braun recall Madonna's remarks regarding Michael Jackson and how fame robbed him of his childhood. "Don't let that happen to me," says Bieber. The chorus of "never" that follows doesn't really allay concerns. When director Jon M. Chu isn't focused on the screaming fans, you can see those concerns seep into the fabric of film. A faux-sexy Bieber duet on "Overboard" with a scarily assertive Miley Cyrus is its own cautionary fable, as is the Bieber rap with
Jaden Smith, 12, on "Never Say Never," the theme from Smith's film, The Karate Kid. You can practically hear all the promotional elements click into place.  Maybe I'm reading too much into a movie meant only as a slick souvenir for Bieber fans. Maybe not.

The 10 Best Movies of 2010

14
prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • Child of God
      star rating
      Well Go USA Entertainment
    • lucy
      star rating
      Universal Pictures
    • star rating
      IFC Films
    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Madame George”

    Van Morrison | 1968

    One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com