One Direction. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay for the time being. I will disclose that I have two of their songs on my iPod and first came to know of them when they were in competition on UK’s X Factor. They performed Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” on one episode, but seeing as X Factor was a UK show, I lost track of their rise. One Direction were thrown together by Simon Cowell after each member individually did not make it through to the next round, and out of that came one of the most fast rising and successful boy bands from the UK. They lost that season of X Factor, but have had much more success than anyone that came from that season.
It has become the trend in recent years to make a concert documentary on bands and pop stars. Justin Beiber, The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and now One Direction has joined the ranks. The most interesting and somewhat shocking news that came out of this documentary was that renowned documentarian Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) stepped into the director’s chair. I think the film world responded with a resounding, “What?” to that news. Morgan Spurlock’s involvement and my somewhat secret love of the boys of One Direction and their pop songs got me to the theatre to review One Direction: This Is Us.
I would not classify this film as a concert film. There are a good many songs that you see performed, but they are all mixed with following the boys on the road and taking a look at where they came from, including their family life. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson all came from normal families, but they all had the dream of being performers. X Factor made that possible. They have skyrocketed to fame, very much to the work of fans and social media that spread their songs and them as a band worldwide.
Other than enjoying some of their songs performed live, the documentary provides a lot of laughs. These guys all get along, and being with each other seemingly 24/7, a lot of jokes and pranks are had. I did not expect to laugh so hard. These guys are not above making fun of themselves. Spurlock deserves the credit for making this not some lame teen film, but something for everyone to enjoy. He clearly knew what that the audience would not just be fans, but also the parents dragged along also. I think there is something for everyone in it.
The use of 3D is subtle and not in your face with effects. The only time it is fully taken advantage of is during the concert scenes. Morgan Spurlock commented that it is first time using 3D and he did not abuse its use. The band sings a version of “Teenage Dirtbag,” and Spurlock uses that song to make the boys comic book superheroes. It is a really cool effect, and makes it hands down my favorite part of the film.
I have never in my life been to a screening where girls screamed and swooned. The experience of seeing One Direction: This Is Us was like being in a mini-concert environment. They all screamed when the boys were introduced on screen and anytime one of the boys popped up shirtless. The documentary makes the band come across as everyday blokes who, with a stroke of luck, were in the right place at the right time to end up in One Direction. They are all very appreciative of their success and their fans. They do not take much for granted and are aware that it could all end any day. While a woman in her 30s is not the target audience for One Direction: This Is Us, it is a really funny and enjoyable film that I would not mind seeing again. Yeah, you read that right.
I give One Direction: This Is Us 4 out of 5.
by Sarah Ksiazek