ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US: FOR FANS: 4 STARS IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO ONE DIRECTION IS: 1 STAR
The members of Britpop boy band One Direction seem like five nice young lads—and they fight poverty with Comic Relief!—and I don’t want to hurt their feelings, so Zayn, Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall if you’re reading this, please skip ahead to the next review.
“One Direction: This Is Us” is a behind the scenes look at the singing sensations from their beginnings as 2010 “X Factor” contestants to teen dream superstars.
Like five tousle-haired Justin Biebers they prance about onstage and off, prompting fans to squeal things like, ”They make me laugh! They make us believe anything is possible! They make me happy when I’m sad!” and newscasters to emote that, “the Beatles didn’t have such transatlantic success so early on!!”
In the concert segments they make vocal sounds that clearly hypnotize anyone under 17 years old, but will have no effect whatsoever on people who have outgrown their training bras.
If this movie could be summed up only using punctuation, I’d suggest younger folks might use the exclamation mark (!) while their elders may prefer the question mark (??).
Of course boy band pop music isn’t supposed to be appreciated by people of a certain age. What’s the fun of liking something of your parents also enjoy? So the music isn’t exactly the point here, but the bar is quite high for these kind of docs and I don’t mean in comparison to “Don’t Look Back” or even “Behind the Music.” No, I mean “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” and “Katy Perry: Part of Me.” Both were finely honed promotional pieces but neither were dull, which is “One Direction: This Is Us’” greatest sin.
While Keith Moon used to while away the time on tour driving Rolls Royces into swimming pools, Zayn, Harry, Louis, Liam and Niall tweet to fans and try to figure out the vagaries of miso soup while in Japan.
The movie is as sure a hit as will be released this year, so it’s disappointing that it feels so prepackaged. It would have been interesting to learn about the marketing and selling of the band but that, I guess, isn’t the stuff that teen dream movies are made of.
Instead the movie is a parade of banality. Despite a few moments with the boys’ parents that ring true and an almost revealing bit near the end when the boys contemplate life after One Direction, the movie panders to fans expectations while revealing very little.
“One Direction: This Is Us” is a blunt force promotional object that portrays its stars as cuddly young men. It preaches to the choir, but anyone of a certain age will feel like they’re being beaten… with a bunny.