If you scream for joy at the sight of Justin Bieber (or are a parent of someone who does), you need no recommendation for “Never Say Never,” the 3-D concert film/documentary about arguably the most popular act in music.
You are probably planning on going at least once, and rest assured, you won’t be disappointed.
The film is mostly live footage shot at concerts, backstage, on tour buses and in Bieber’s hometown of Stratford, Ontario, where he was raised by his then-single, teenage mother and her parents. Family is a theme that runs through this film. Bieber, it shows, has been blessed with lots of love and support.
But that’s all part of a warm, flattering back story that leads to the climax: his sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in August, less than six months after his 16th birthday.
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The concert footage is where most of the 3-D comes in, embellishing the flashiest part of the film. Between the live-music segments, the story tells of Bieber’s discovery, via YouTube, by Scott “Scooter” Braun, his manager, and their fast but arduous and grass roots efforts to spring Bieber loose in an industry in dire need of superstars but that, initially, was slow to ignite his fuse.
By tapping into the power of social media and taking their show on the road to radio stations all over the country, they generated the kind of hype and then hysteria that preceded the Beatles’ first trip to America.
“Never Say Never” is foremost a film for Bieber’s legions of young fans, whose devotion to him borders on obsession.
Still, even the most skeptical viewer would have to agree: He comes off as a decent, funny and respectful kid, one who minds his elders, especially his surrogate mother, vocal coach Jan Smith.
The moral to the story is implicit in the film’s title: Don’t give up on something you truly believe in. Bieber’s success story isn’t one of a kid who arose from a life of squalor and despair. He had talent, strove to get better, charmed the right people, worked the systems right — especially YouTube and Twitter — and ended up creating an enormous, worldwide demand for what he does and who he is, without losing himself in the whirlwind process.
If the sound of his music or the sight of his mop-topped head makes you want to scream in frustration, you are probably not going anywhere near this movie. But realize this: Though he may be off the radar in a year or two, Bieber can take pride in having gotten where he is largely on his own, without the help of TV stardom or a famous father, like Miley Cyrus (who appears in the film). Family helped Bieber get famous, but not the way hers did.
See the movie in 3-D: The effect is used judiciously and wisely, especially in concert footage.