GTOG Movie Review: Never Say Never — The Justin Bieber Story

By Finesse (with the counsel of Artistry)

It started out innocently enough. Artistry, a grown man with wife and child, sends me an IM in the middle of the blogging work day to tell me that he must reveal something to me. I wonder…is he moving away? Has he confronted Peter King? Was he about to confess that he actually was high when he gamed out a scenario for the Pens to get Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks in exchange for a package headlined by Tyler Kennedy?  Nope. Instead, he said, “We have to see the Justin Bieber movie.” And even after I immediately responded, “I’d definitely see that,” he pressed forward with the coaxing, “Our fans want the Bieber review. Our fans demand the Bieber review.” And before I could even point out that the only reason he wanted us to do this was to get hits to our site from Google Image searches for Justin Bieber, we were discussing logistics.

Good for at least 100,000 hits.  A day.

So two days later, we met at an undisclosed theater, primed with pens, tablets, and explanations for our behavior like, “It’s for the blog” and “Look, he’s really popular.  I’m just trying to learn.”  We entered the theater and were immediately eyed up and down by everyone in there.  And by everyone in there, I mean both people.  We had our pick of seats and set up shop halfway up, dead center.  A few minutes later, two 20-something ladies entered the theater, stared at us curiously, and then clearly had an internal debate about whether they wanted to spend 2 hours with their backs to us or play it safe and keep us in their field of vision.

Bieber Fever
After the jump, MUCH, MUCH more on Never Say Never…

By the time the previews started, the theater was brimming with people, I believe 11 in total.  Despite the light crowd, we were excited. Artistry believed that the previews were “atrocious”, but I’ll use a less caustic term and describe them as underwhelming.  I’ll point out, however, that my personal dictionary defines “whelming” as “the worst previews I’ve ever seen.” Neither of us were interested in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (kidding, Artistry said, “I’d see that”) nor the one-armed surfer movie, Soul Surfer, in which Carrie Underwood is clearly suffering from ocular constipation.
She’s trying to cry here.  You’ll have to take our word for it.
The movie starts by showing many of Justin Bieber’s early YouTube videos, like the one where he sings that song by Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend and the one where he wears the Maple Leafs’ zip up while serenading Usher with lyrics like, “I’m your man.  You’re my girl.”

For guys like us, who literally didn’t know anything about Biebs going into this movie, you can tell right away that he does actually have legitimate talent. What also strikes you is that his mom is approximately 17 years old and that he has a sticker on the wall of his bedroom with a right-handed shooting member of what appears to be the Pittsburgh Penguins (see video above).

Totally shares clothes with Miley!

The movie itself proceeds like a typical documentary – old videos spliced with current performances and interviews of his concert-goers, known as Beliebers, a term encompassing every white girl in America between the ages of 9-16. These young ladies, in between bouts of anaphylactic shock, are kind enough to give us their perspective on JB, including reflections such as, “Justin is giving back to us because we love him so much” and “I think about him, like, 99 percent of my life.”  And because every movie has to manufacture artificial tension, we, the audience, are essentially asked, “OMG, will Justin be able to sell out Madison Square Garden for a concert that a production company bought 74 3D cameras for all in anticipation of releasing a major motion picture across the world based almost entirely on this performance?” SPOILER ALERT!!!  The concert sold out.

Yeah, I think people will go.

[Artistry and I may have missed the next 5-10 minutes of the movie as we fumed over the movie’s false premise, “He can sell 50,000 tickets in Davenport, Iowa, but the true test is can he sell 18,000 tickets at THE GARDEN?!?!?!?!?!?” To point out the obvious, for those who still don’t get why I’m harping on it, do we not all agree that if you are an international pop star, it might be easier to sell-out an 18,000 seat arena in a metropolitan area of 30 million people than it is to attract 100,000 highschoolers to a county fair in Brampton, Ontario? Ok, done venting.]

As we continue to meet J-Bieb and his entourage, we can’t help but notice that his handlers are, um, a little too hands on.  The tickle-fighting, wrestling, roughhousing, and generally inappropriate touching is probably something that goes on all the time among adolescents, with the only difference here being that the “adolescents” handling Bieber are 6’7” 320lb bodyguards who look juuuust a little too happy to be playing with the big star. Or, as Artistry puts it succinctly in his notes, “Biebs has very physical relationships with older men. Always getting bum rushed by like 3 dudes.” 

Ruben Studdard or Bieber’s tickle-fighting opponent?  You decide.

When Justin isn’t being so hands on, we see him ask his voice coach for a razor so that he can shave.  Neither of us were sure why he felt he needed a razor, but ok.  While this is happening, we discuss whether Team Bieber is prepared for the inevitable voice-change, but before we can even get the conversation going we learn from the film that his voice coach actually purports to specialize in coaching through voice-changes.  We’re skeptical.  Also, despite laws against this kind of thing, we got a shot of Justin shirtless, preparing himself for a show.  I’m ok with this, as it comports with my Life Rule #34, “Any time a grown man can see a topless 16-year old blow-dry his hair in 3D for only $13/person, you have to do it.”  [Joking.]

To make this post even slightly relevant to this website, we should point out that Justin’s dad is clearly a huge hockey fan, as he is seen in a Team Canada sweater.  It’s nice to see that his dad, who is not married to his mom, is so involved in Justin’s life.  I, for one, have no doubt that his love for his son is true and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Just-B is reported to have earned close to $100 million in 2010 alone.  BiebFeev also has a Caucasian “big brother figure” in his entourage who appears to serve no purpose beyond screaming all the time.  Biebs finds this hilarious, but as Artistry points out, one day it will no longer be funny to Biebs, and this Caucasian big brother figure will have outlived his utility.

Exactly what our dads looks like.

It’s also nice to see that JuJuB remembers where he came from.  We are bombarded with anecdotes that he used to sing on the steps of the Avalon Theater which may have been more meaningful had anyone known what the Avalon Theater was.  To give back to the community which gave so much to Justin until he moved to Atlanta at age 13, Justin returned to the Avalon Theater as a waif-like teen in a skin-tight red hoodie and purple Yankees hat.  He approached the young girl who was playing the violin on the same steps and put approximately 0.000000001% of his $100 million fortune into her violin case and countenanced her to “always follow your dreams” which prompted Artistry to note to Justin, “always ignore your fashion instincts.”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about The B’s music which, while cheesy, is also catchy.  He clearly knows how to handle himself on stage or while suspended above the crowd strumming a guitar in heart shaped scaffolding.  If I ever have a daughter, I’m putting her on MTV’s My Sweet 16 and making her descend upon her party the same way.

Our favorite hit was the instant classic, “Shorty Is An Ini Mini Miny Mo Lova,” which is actually a decent tune once you get over the fact that yes, that is the actual title.  I like the song because it is a logical prequel to his upcoming albums which will feature the ballad, “Sweetie Look Fly Jumpin’ Hopscotch” and his controversial foray into hip-hop, “Playin’ Rock-Paper-Scissors Wit’ Your Boo.”

But this movie was not a complete feel-good story because of one thing, and one thing only: Jaden Smith.  He has clearly hitched his wagon to the J-Train, or at least his parents forced him to.  Because Jaden probably doesn’t know any better, we can’t fault him for his excessive pompogance (pomposity + arrogance), but that doesn’t make it any more palatable when he laments that he can’t get in touch with his parents because they are on a helicopter on the way to his show with Justin at MSG.  Artistry nearly left the theater with disgust, but I had a different take: This was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech come to life.

Exactly what MLK had in mind.

As we approached the climactic performance at MSG, the artificial tension machine kicked into overdrive as Justin had to cancel a show in Syracuse to rest his voice for the big night at The Garden.  Ominous music plays as some doctor says that Justin may have to sit this one out.  His mom gathers the entourage and prays, “We pray for Justin’s headache to go away. We pray for complete healing.”  Determined not to disappoint his fans, Justin shuts out the cameras, drinks some honey, and rests up.  He’s ready to go for MSG.  His manager also assures us that “Justin is 16 and fighting to be a normal kid,” and to prove this, he immediately tells us that Justin, like all 16-year-olds, recently discussed his just-another-kid’ness backstage at the Video Music Awards with Madonna.

Right before his big show, Justin gets advice from Usher that “you won’t be 16 forever.”  Feeling inspired, J-Biebonics decides to impart his own inspiration on the crowd as he goes on stage, screaming at them, “THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN THEY SAY YOU CAN’T SELL OUT THE GARDEN!!!”  I can only speak for myself, but they have never said that to me.

The performance at MSG is magical, except for Jaden Smith, who performs with an electronic blinking heart protruding from his chest.  I Googled this device and found that it is actually called an Electronic Ego.  It’s on sale for $79.99 on Amazon.

Raising humble kids since 1998.

Justin sings his heart out, especially during the appropriately titled, “Back Down To Earth” and the encore presentation of the Baby Baby song featuring Ludacris.  After the show, Biebs and Usher embrace dozens of times, which at this point in the film is no longer as creepy as it was at the beginning.

As the movie closes, we are reminded once again about his meteoric rise to stardom which, while pretty cool to see, also leaves us wondering whether this story can possibly have a good ending.  We’re skeptical that Justin can stay grounded while suspended atop crowds of thousands, but he actually does seem like a decent kid with a decent supporting cast.  We’re rooting for him.  And no matter how it plays out, this much we can say — the ride was a lot more entertaining than we thought it would be.  Consider us Bieliebers. 

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3 thoughts on “GTOG Movie Review: Never Say Never — The Justin Bieber Story

  1. this is totally hilarious and i knew nothing of justin beiber. would really like to know how his hair "happened" but i guess there has to be something to look forward in the sequel.

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