When you are required to choose a subject matter to use as the basis of your documentary film and the first thing that springs to mind is a generically corny boy band that only remains popular because they happen to be pandering to the most impressionable demographic imaginable, you might at least want to wait until they do something controversial and hilarious.
I trust you all know of the band One Direction (I know I do), a band of young cuties who recently got a nice little money-grabbing documentary based around them, possibly in an attempt to convince moviegoers that these guys have talent. If that is true, the fact that its title, This Is Us, is blatantly derivative of Michael Jackson‘s This Is It doesn’t enhance the subtlety of this mission.
Directed by Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame, This Is Us tells us the story of One Direction. We got Niall Horan, the cute one, Zayn Malik, the cute one, Liam Payne, the cute one, Louis Tomlinson, the cute one, and Harry Styles, the cute one whom you actually bother to remember simply because their hair looks like an endangered mushroom species. Similar to documentaries about entertainers that have actually been around long enough for there to be enough interesting material to even document in the first place, this one shows us all the usual stuff; the backstories of the entertainers in question, their family lives, their ascension to a musical phenomenon, interviews with fans, and so on. In terms of what the movie is about, I don’t think there’s much else to describe.
For what it’s worth, the movie is in fact slightly more interesting and enjoyable than the insipid Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and I do know enough about One Direction to know that, unlike Justin Bieber, they actually seem like a nice and friendly bunch of blokes and This Is Us did nothing to change my mind on that. Since their rise to massive fame is more or less thanks to the show X-Factor, Simon Cowell is one of the other well-known faces we get to see in the documentary. It could use some more of his trademark witty insults, though.
One of the big laughs in the film is when we see the boys go to Japan and they appear unsure as to how correctly eat the food served there. This amused me because my father is hardcore sushi snob and I could only imagine how irritated he would feel if he saw how they were eating. He gets fasinatingly upset over that sort of thing. Other similar scenes of the boys interracting are actually quite tolerable and borderline fun.
Now, don’t let the title fool you. This Is Us isn’t under the impression that we’re dealing with a modern day Michael Jackson times five here and it honestly isn’t a completely unwatchable movie; it’s more of a generic film with little worth of note. This is appropriate, in a way, because I believe that that’s what people tend to have against the music of One Direction in general, me included. They don’t make notoriously bad songs. They don’t make memorably bad songs. They just make generically bad songs.
See, the problem with One Direction may not be the fact that their voices are nothing particularly ground-breaking, but rather that each and every one of their hits comes off as the same bland, insufferable love song that’s designed to apply to every impressionable teen girl within their target audience. They never name any specifics when they sing a song that describes the aspects that make a certain person so darn attractive. More often than not they only mention “that thing you have”, which of course could mean any conceivable “thing” that any teenaged girl has ever “had”, which explains why such a significant majority of this band’s fanbase maintains faith in the possibility that they will one day get to date one of these generic pretty boys. “I know they love me”, says an interviewed fan in This Is Us. “Don’t push your luck”, replies common sense.
I’m going to give this film a 2/5. Even though I can imagine that it will be adored by the audience for which it’s intended, I honestly can’t say that it contains much else that others will enjoy very much. A bit, maybe, but not much. To the boys who might be forced to watch this with their girlfriends: remind them that Elysium might be playing in the theatre next door and beg them to reconsider. To the girls who might force their boyfriends to go watch this with them: I think the tickets for Elysium are slightly cheaper.