You know, I couldn't have named a single song by Justin Bieber before I saw this movie. And I knew little about him other than the very mention of his names makes his fans squeal with delight.
Now I have to admit I like him, enjoy his music and, more than that, I enjoyed watching his fans in "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."
There were plenty of girls in the audience for the midnight show, and something tells me a number of them will see this movie more than once. I saw it in 3-D and got a kick out of the up-close environment that provides. Justin knows how to work an audience, which includes whoever is helming the 3-D cameras at his concerts.
His story is the real deal: a rags-to-riches rise to fame that took very little time and left intact a nice kid who was singing outdoors for free not all that long ago. Now he's singing at a sold-out Madison Square Garden. And accompanying him are a veritable troop of handlers, from a manager to a vocal coach to his family. It's beautiful to see the way he and his mother interact.
The show includes snippets of toddler Justin and still-little Justin as he shows real promise on the drums and guitar. It's obvious he grew up in an average home where he wasn't spoiled. And it's also obvious that he didn't grow up with the trappings of expensive vocal coaches or a private music school. He's just a kid who has a knack for performing, subsequently was "discovered" and almost literally skyrocketed to fame.
I liked watching Justin just be a teenager and a performer who knows well the worth of making his fans feel special. But even more, I smiled at the intensity of his fans in all their screaming, sobbing joy and the determination that they will be Justin's girl: "We are going to be husband and wife," one determined fan says.
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I loved the way director Jon M. Chu plays to the audience by creating two slow-motion sequences of Justin tossing his famous locks. It's clever and it's cute.
The concert footage is mesmerizing, from the driving beat of his more rocking tunes to the intimacy of his love songs. It's also fascinating to watch as Justin's friend and mentor Usher coaches him with a wistful look in his eyes: It's obvious he wants the best for this young man who has so much at stake in the next few years.
If you're not a Bieber fan going on, you'll probably leave the theater as one.