OK – so, I said I would write a film review for every film I see at the cinema – no exceptions. So, despite being something of a drag-along – and at least grateful its not “Smurfs 2” – here we go.
This Is Us tells the quite remarkable true story of One Direction, the totally manufactured boy band from the 2010 vintage of the X Factor, who – through the power of social networking alone – stole teenage hearts around the world without even releasing their first single. The film charts (briefly, and rather too briefly) their early X-factor story and then proceeds to follow them around the world through increasingly larger venues, finishing with their appearance at the O2 Arena.
Bearing in mind that nay-sayers of the feisty five get hate mail and have to check under their cars before driving off, I had better be careful here! But I don’t need to be. Whether you are a fan or not, this film is actually very well done in charting – as the Beatles’ “Hard Day’s Night” did 50 years earlier – a historical phenomenon of fan hysteria in the Twitter age. All the songs are annoyingly catchy, and the filmed live shows well illustrate that these guys do have musicality, showmanship and real talent. Yes – it’s a 90 minute infomercial for them, but what do you expect with Simon Cowell in the producer’s seat?
Of more relevance for the non-fans are the more limited documentary segments which take them back to their home towns and their parents. It is clear from these brief glimpses that the talent show has left them grieving their lost sons to the world stage. Particularly poignant is Liam’s Mum buying a life-size cut out of him in New York to put in his bedroom to say ‘night night’ to, as is Harry’s Mum who sadly states that he has only been home for 5 days since the X-factor finished.
There is good natured humour present too, particularly when one of them (it might have been Ronan) disguises himself as a Glasgow security guard and shows young fans to their seats: probably the subject of a number of cinema heart-attacks for the fans involved!
Directed by documentary-maker Morgan Spurlock, who rose to fame with the junk-food stunt Super Size Me, it’s a professional production without ever showing anything remotely detrimental to the ‘brand’. What would be interesting to understand is the ‘behind the scenes’ influence of Cowell on Spurlock to cut out – perhaps! – the shots of the groupies crawling from Liam’s room or the real frustrations of the endless touring, which is only hinted at by Harry in a very sanitised way.
Clearly a six Fad rating for young teenage fans, this earns a more modest rating from me. But not the boring event I was expecting, so for that reason…
Fad Rating: FFF.