Film makes 'persuasive case' that Bieber is a 'far more talented-than-usual teen idol,' one critic says.
By Eric Ditzian
In case you couldn't tell from the talk-show appearances and the TV spots, from the billboards and bus ads, from the ceaseless chatter on Twitter, Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never" has finally arrived in theaters after a seemingly endless promotional push that left no channel or digital sphere Bieber Fever-free.
And in case you weren't sure, most everyone who's already seen it seems to agree: The movie is pretty dang good. And that's coming from critics and reporters who don't likely hum "One Less Lonely Girl" in the shower. Whether you're begging your parents for — or are being begged by your kids about — a trip to the multiplex this weekend, check out what reviewers are saying about "Never Say Never."
"A fairly intimate look at Bieber's life on the road and his beginnings as just another talented kid growing up in small-town Canada, the movie is part-documentary and part-concert film that both embraces and pokes fun at the teenybopper mania that Bieber and his handlers have created. There's a loose countdown structure as Bieber prepares for his first concert at Madison Square Garden, but director Jon Chu is mostly content to zip around Bieber's life and the people who surround him, mixing in live performances with the interviews and fly-on-the-wall recordings. He doesn't exactly pander to the audience, but it's probably no coincidence either that Bieber takes off his shirt twice in the first 10 minutes." — Katey Rich, Cinema Blend
Meet the Real Bieber
"Bieber is a mix of intuitive performer and apparent quick study. As a dancer, his style is endearingly awkward, as if the 16-year-old still has not quite figured out how his body works. ... Yet beneath his polish there is still something unpracticed and a bit goofy to Bieber and his ever-present team of handlers. When a random girl is plucked night after night from the audience for him to serenade onstage, he hands her a big bouquet of roses; as he sings a solo acoustic number, he hangs over the crowd seated in a giant heart. Bieber seems to sit at some rare intersection of the newfangled and the traditional, where camera phones coexist sweetly with swooning romance." — Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
"Director Jon Chu has done a nice job of building this as a film, as a solid documentary, with a heavy side order of self-aware image-building. It is revealing in ways it may not have been intended to be, but it is crafted well, and the 3-D concert footage is designed to be very experiential. Chu wants you to see how hard the people on stage are working, how crazy it is behind the scenes, and just how much that audience feeds on it and then feeds it back in crazy prepubescent emotional hypermedia." — Drew McWeeny, HitFix
"While the film makes clear Bieber is a wunderkind who wants to be seen more as a Justin Timberlake than a Rick Astley, his movie retreats from anything near the portrait that Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' posthumously became. That's a shame, because there was drama in Bieber's life. He grew up poor to a single mom in Ontario, Canada, and became a sensation only after posting his second-place finish in a singing competition on YouTube. 'Never,' though, touches only briefly on that childhood. And though Bieber taught himself to play several instruments, the film whisks past his talents to get to his bangs — and does nothing to risk 'Never' 's G-rating." — Scott Bowles, USA Today
The Final Word
"Though anyone who needs convincing won't touch this one with a 10-foot pole, 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' makes a persuasive case for its titular star as a far more talented-than-usual teen idol. As much a legitimate documentary as it is a 3D concert film and teen girl squeal-delivery device, the film possesses surprising moments of candor on the toil of teenage superstardom, even if the overall effect is purely promotional. Provided it skirts the curse of the Jonas Brothers (who released a similar film just as their popularity began to flatline), it should go over like gangbusters." — Andrew Barker, Variety
Check out everything we've got on "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."
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