I’ve never been into boy bands. Early on in life, my musical preferences drifted towards harder and more anti-authoritative music. I grew up on tunes from The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, and later drifted towards Fugazi, Nirvana, and Green Day, with NWA and Ice T thrown into the mix. But somehow, I found myself sitting in the audience for an advanced screening of boy band One Direction’s new film “This is Us” with my seven year old daughter.
From the moment I was invited, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to enjoy the film. I knew very little about One Direction before I saw the movie, but I did know that Simon Cowell had a hand in their coming together and I saw them perform on SNL. I also knew a couple of their songs because my kids and I dance to the radio almost every morning and One Direction’s music always comes on. I’m also a fan of Morgan Spurlock’s style of documentaries, so I knew the film would at least be well made. With little expectations, I figured I’d go and use the screening as an opportunity to have a daddy-daughter day.
Five minutes into the film, I’m laughing out loud.
Ten minutes into the film, I’m actually caring about these five boys.
Fifteen minutes into the film, I’m hoping there’s more concert footage of the band.
To say that I enjoyed the film is an understatement. When I got home, my wife found it humorous that I couldn’t stop talking about the movie or the group. As the movie progressed, I could see why Simon Cowell chose these five guys for the group. They weren’t chosen merely because they can sing, but each one of them is quite an entertaining fellow and all have a quick wit. From the beginning of the film, Spurlock captures their sense of humor by filming their many shenanigans, such as pestering their poor security guards and passing gas on the tour bus. Actually, they seem to enjoy being smelly and it seems to be a theme for much of the film.
I was also impressed with how grounded the young men seem. And you can tell where they get it from. The moments when their parents are on screen are sweet and it was touching to watch them tear up when they talk about their kids. When one of the fathers discussed how his son left when he was 16 to be on The X Factor and never came home, I had to give my daughter a little hug. It was those moments with the parents that allowed you to get a little closer to the band. You see them not just as rock stars, but as sons that are like everyone else. Very smelly sons. Only these sons have a million girls screaming at them every moment of their lives.
At times during the film I also felt bad for them. One of the band members wonders how real the relationships will be with others. Will people like him for who he really is or will he be liked only for his fame? That high level of fame was captured in a scene when they went for a walk down the street and had to hole up inside a Footlocker store. Simply going for a walk is out of the question for these guys.
Between the scenes with the parents and the constant threat of being torn to pieces by screaming girls, my heart went out to these guys. When they got into this, I’m sure they hoped for a high level of fame, but probably didn’t realize the cost of such fame. That being said, each one seems to be handling their success quite well.
I’m not going to recommend this film to those screaming girls, because they’ll see it anyway. Instead, I’ll speak to the parents of those screaming girls. If you are going to have a daughter scream her head off for a band, this would be a good one. By watching the film, you’ll get an idea of who they are and where they’ve come from. And maybe, just maybe you might become a “Directioner” yourself.
This is Us opens August 30, 2013 and is rated PG for mild language.
To read about my Q and A with Morgan Spurlock, click here.
To read about what it was like to take my daughter to the screening, click here.