One Direction: This Is Us (2013) ***1/2

The world has been presented with a small, but talented amount of Boy Bands over the last few decades. Most notably were the Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, New Kids On The Block, Hanson and  Boyz II Men. All of these bands started out small, but over time grew to be quite popular. Along with being categorized as a boy band, the members had to learn to dance and put on a choreographed show, because they can’t play instruments (mainly Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC). Of course, there have to be some feuds in the band as well. But, like a lot of bands, they all fell apart within a few years.

For those of you living under a rock, the members of One Direction are: Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson. (ordered left to right)
For those of you living under a rock, the members of One Direction are: Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson. (ordered left to right)

For the last three years, the boy band One Direction, famously untied by Simon Cowell on The X Factor, has completely taken the world by storm. Although they didn’t win The X-Factor, they went straight from there into making their first hit song, What Makes You Beautiful. The result? An overwhelming number of fans chanting in support as the boys were then rocketed into stardom. From then on, One Direction has released three studio albums and has played over 80 concerts just this year. Oh, and, they still have another 40-some to go.

Five European lads comprise the behemoth boy band, One Direction. As the boys will say, there is no front-runner. As fans will say, Harry Styles is the main man. Styles hails from Cheshire, England and worked in a bakery. He always loved to sing and had a band. Next up is Liam Payne, from Wolverhampton, England. As a boy, he grew up singing anywhere he could. Then we have Louis Tomlinson, the eldest member of the band from South Yorkshire, England. There’s also Zayn Malick, who grew up singing in East Bowling, England. Last, but not least, is Niall Horan, the only non-Englishman in the group. Niall is from Ireland and often plays the guitar in the band!

Three years and 5 puberties ago, One Direction had just become a band on The X Factor!
Three years and 5 puberties ago, One Direction had just become a band on The X Factor!

On The X Factor, everyone’s favorite, Simon Cowell, put these five boys into a group to stop them from being sent home. That one decision sparked instant fandom among young girls and the support for the band spread overseas and all over the world. It’s crazy just how fast the “Directioner” fanbase grew. One moment, they were just five normal guys. After The X Factor, their lives have been changed forever.

One of the downsides to this life altering event, is the fact that these boys were immediately thrust into stardom without being able to even go home. Like the band or not, Director Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) emphasizes greatly that the boys have only been home FIVE times since they were first formed on The X Factor. FIVE! That’s unbelievable! They’ve gone from teenagers to adults (technically) in the last three years and have only been back home to see their families FIVE times. I can’t even imagine what that must be like for not only the boys, but their parents and siblings as well.

In their most recent video for their song "Best Song Ever", the boys dress up and have fun as people you'll find in Hollywood.
In their most recent video for their song “Best Song Ever”, the boys dress up and have fun as people you’ll find in Hollywood.

Spurlock also does a great job on emphasizing that these boys aren’t like you average boy band. They absolutely despise and mock choreographed dancing and they love to make fools of themselves on and offstage. We see shots of Louis skating around stadiums and driving a golf cart around. We get Harry doing seductive and weird poses for the camera when he should be serious. We see Liam going outside and playing around with the fans. We see a softer side of Zayn when he, almost in tears, talks with his mom who he’d just bought a house for. We also get to see Niall play rap songs on his guitar and give rapping his best shot. Something that the boys are always saying is “We are just five normal lads having the times of our lives… We’re fortunate that we get to do what we love”.

This documentary primarily focuses on One Direction’s rise to fame and how their fans have helped them become one of the biggest things in the music industry, of all time. Onscreen, we see hundreds of thousands of girls, all crying and smiling as they listen to One Direction perform. To them, One Direction is more than a band. The boy’s music has influenced them or helped them in some way that has made an impact on their lives. It sounds cheesy, but we all have a favorite artist whose music can get us through the worst of times. I got to experience crying fans during my screening of this film. I was one of the few guys there, and as soon as the Tri-Star Pegasus showed up on the screen, there was an uproar of cheers and “I LOVE YOU” from the girls in the audience. To the many girls who thought I didn’t see you crying when the lads took their shirts off or sang slow songs, I totally did.

These girls only represent a fraction of the One Direction fans that are brought to tears when the boys perform.
These girls only represent a fraction of the One Direction fans that are brought to tears when the boys perform.

Going into the film, I wasn’t a huge One Direction fan. I know their music and I think it’s incredibly catchy, but that’s all I payed attention to. I never thought about the downsides to their lives as super celebrities. I never thought about how lonely it must get when you only see home five times in three years. Spurlock touched on a lot of issues in the boy’s lives that most people don’t know about. In that sense, I thought Spurlock did a wonderful job with this film. He managed to take someone neutral to the band and make him a fan! I had a lot of fun watching this movie, probably because I imagined what it’d be like for me and four of my best friends getting to do what we loved.

On the downside, this Documentary lacks some depth. Sprulock scratches the surface with the boys being away from home and their families, but that’s about as deep as it gets. If this is a film about how the fans got them to where they are, then this film doesn’t cover too much. I get that it is also about the boys and that’s what people want to see, but there weren’t a lot of questions or interviews with the boys about fans or personal things. I wanted to know if the band thought some fans were crazy for nearly killing people for tickets! I wanted to get to know what some of the crazy experiences each band member had with fans. Most of all, I wanted more questions about their new lifestyle and all the aspects it entails. While the boys have a lot of fun, they never really get to open up about themselves, outside of a few scenes when they’re back home.

All in all, this film is a lot of fun. I’m not saying I love the band now, but I’m definitely more of a fan than I used to be. I see a new side to the band and what they’re doing and I can’t help but respect them. While the film is fun, it still could have been better in terms of questions asked and stories told. In the end, these are five best friends who get paid to hangout and do what they love. I can’t imagine what that must be like. The best thing about this film is that it makes the boys more relatable and it actually shows you that they aren’t just another boy band. They’re talented guys having the times of their lives. You’re going to enjoy this film because it’s fun to watch them have fun and you may even come away with a new favorite. I know I did. (It’s Niall)

One Direction: This Is Us Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0I9ikjQtuI

3.5 STARS!!!

3.5 / 5 stars     

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