by Bob Garver
Sept. 2, 2013. “One Direction: This is Us” is a concert movie, so it doesn’t have to play by the same rules as other movies. There’s no pressure for it to be clever or exciting. All the movie promises is One Direction- the British boy band consisting of Niall Horan, Zyn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. The film has a lot of One Direction, so if nothing else the film delivers what it promises. As I am not obsessed with One Direction, I am not the target audience for this movie. But at least I got to see it will a very responsive audience (mostly teenage girls, and yes, I was very much out of place). Bear that in mind as I share the following thoughts:
The most popular member of the band by far is Harry Styles. The audience squealed for him even when he was taking in voiceover as opposed to singing. He’s popular now, but I doubt that in ten years he’ll be the artist that Justin Timberlake has turned out to be. Then again, I never would have guessed in 2003 that Justin Timberlake would turn out to be the artist he is now.
Though the audience reaction was largely positive (cheers and squeals), there was one massive booing. It came before the movie in a Diet Coke ad starring Styles’ ex-girlfriend Taylor Swift. I never thought I’d see an audience side against Taylor like that. It’s officially time for her to move on from her image as a jilted lover.
The film is roughly a third musical performances, a third footage of the members goofing around, and a third talk of how great it is to be in One Direction. They really overdo it on that last part. Of course it’s great to be in One Direction, it’s a lifetime of fame and fortune for performing pop songs. There’s the slightest talk of early mornings and hard rehearsals, but that’s just to appease detractors who insist that they have it entirely on Easy Street. While I wouldn’t wish misery on any of the members, I did have a chuckle as I imagined one of them whining incessantly just to be different.
There’s a lot of emphasis on the role Simon Cowell played i the members’ careers after they got cut from “The X Factor” in 2010. I guess Cowell learned from the success of people like Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry that there’s a lot of potential in people who lose on his shows.
I was taken off guard about halfway through the movie when the group launched into a cover of Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag.” That song came out when I was the same age as a lot of One Direction fans. It was creepy that I could sing along to this one and most of the audience couldn’t.
The film is obviously short of suspense, but I found something to give me anxiety anyway. I wondered if the final performance of the movie would be “What Makes You Beautiful,” the group’s most famous song, or “The Best Song Ever” recently voted Song of the Summer at the MTV Video Music Awards. One song serves as the film’s grand finale, the other is relegated to playing over the credits without performance footage. Whatever your thoughts on this movie, you have to admit it’s a bad idea not to feature a performance of such a popular song.
These are the thoughts that got a bored adult through “One Direction: This is Us.” The film is quite agreeable in that “glorified commercial” sort of way. If you’re a fan of One Direction, you’ll find a lot to like. If you’re seeing the movie with a fan of One Direction, you’ll probably like that they’re finding a lot to like. But if you have no interest in one direction and out of sick curiosity you see this movie, you’ll only want to head in One Direction-to the theater exit.
“One Direction: This is Us” is rated PG for mild language. Its running time is 92 minutes.