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:: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Justin Bieber! That name will cause people to scream for two different reasons. A teeny-bopper will scream with ecstasy and a serious music fan will scream in fear. Many will view Justin Bieber: Never Say Never as a doco that sounds so bad the United Nations should be outlawing it for its potential to be used a torture device. Yet the strange thing is that inside Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is a good doco screaming to be set free.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never follows the energetic Bieber for ten days in the lead-up to his biggest concert to date at a sold out Madison Square Gardens… the pinnacle for musicians worldwide. It charts his early life, born to a teenage Mum in Canada, being a talented muso as a child, finding global success on YouTube, finally landing a manager and even meeting and impressing worldwide superstar, Usher (Killers, In The Mix). Oh yes, and there is tons of footage of him performing with the likes of Boyz II Men, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, and Usher.

Yet it is what is missing from this doco that drags it down from being good to just okay. Things that would be interesting to the audience, like how bad was it for his teenage Mum bringing him up and what is his relationship with his father like, is skirted over to make way for the MTV publicity machine to chick in more on-stage footage of Bieber trying to get romantic with a disinterested Miley Cyrus. The ultimate slap-in-the-face for the audience comes when his manager, Scooter Braun, recalls a story of Madonna talking about Michael Jackson’s life being ruined because he lost his childhood and Bieber turning to him and saying ‘Please don’t let that happen to me”, and then there is no follow-up to the statement. The most poignant line of the film and it’s treated as an uninteresting throwaway line.

Having said that though, this doco may change some people’s thoughts on Bieber. It is obvious from some of the footage shown that he has talent as a musician… he just needs somebody to write him some decent songs. The film also shows his strong Christian background, his hard-working ethic and the fact he hates to disappoint his fans… brilliantly illustrated by the fact he is physically upset when he has to cancel events because of a bad throat.

While this film may change some people’s opinion of Bieber, at the end of the day it is just an okay doco that could have been much better. Young musos will see how hard the popstar lifestyle can be, but other important topics are simply just glanced over, while the whole film is held together by some unremarkable concert footage. Director, Jon Chu really needs to go back to film school and learn what elements make a doco truly great.