'One Direction: This Is Us' Film Review - Shows Simon Cowell's Creation In Full Flight, In A Fan-Delighting Bit Of Fluff

REVIEW: 'One Direction: This Is Us' - A Fan-Delighting Bit Of Fluff

One Direction have given us the record-breaking singles, the globe-cornering tour. Now, as for any self-respecting, 21st century pop franchise, it must be time for the access-all-areas documentary.

And so, where Bieber and Perry have stepped, so One Direction must follow.

One Direction - currently on posters on walls from Mexico to Malaysia, but as "normal" as they ever were

The Directioners' global conquest has been likened to Beatlemania, but 'This Is Us' is no 'A Hard Day's Night'. Because, like every other pop outfit, this lot are hard at work counting up the airmiles desperately attending to every fanbase from Mexico to Japan, the only way to make an insider's account is to go on the road with them, and document their resulting cocooned view of the world.

It has only been three years since Simon Cowell waved his reality TV wand, and out of his box jumped five energetic, photogenic goslings, prancing around in trainers, quiffed up to their eyeballs and apparently having lots of contagious fun.

It feels longer because, in that time, the Fab Five have gone as far as any British band before in dominating the global pop scene, and seem destined to scale ever-higher Twitter-fuelled heights.

The film makes a token effort to explain exactly why this particular combination of Liam, Louis, Zayn, Niall and Harry has incited such a worldwide outpouring of tweeny love.

Simon Cowell, the happy hen behind this particularly lucrative egg, makes no effort to deconstruct it. He just pops up like Zippy once in a while to congratulate the fans on being "crazy, everywhere", by which he means dropping coins into his weighty pockets, but he offers no real answers.

A few nodding pundity heads talk sagely about the "anarchic streak" of these cheeky but basically well-mannered boys... Really? Compared with the Sex Pistols? The Stones? Even Bieber of recent monkey-abandoning, balcony-spitting tantrum fame?

One Direction are so anarchic they get in golf carts and whizz around back stage with only six minutes until time for curtain up, not a rebellion soon to bring down the establishment, or worry the parents, either. Nothing wrong on the boys' account, but a disappointing cheapening of the word once again in circulation.

Instead, 'This is Us' simply accepts the idolatry as given, and contents itself with demonstration rather than discussion. Cue lots of scenes of boys dashing on a plane to meet hordes of girly fans, said girly fans screaming and weeping so hard all the autographs run, and then five boys hiding from them in hotel rooms and corridors. There's something vaguely disturbing about Niall and Liam's delight in controlling a crowd, waving the hordes up and down like an audio Mexican wave according to their whim, and the girls' contentment to conspire, but any sinister undertones about the responsibilities of such power are left firmly on the cutting room floor, in favour of three simple messages.

The first is that it can't be sinister, because it's all done in fun. These are five normal boys, bursting out of their adolescence and into wealth beyond wildest imaginings. All five seem to have intuitively realised that the only hope they have of staying in a Macaulay-free zone is to cling to each other, and laugh their way through it. And from the jokes, some staged, in the film, all five do seem ironic enough to survive their big adventure.

They couldn't have done it alone. "I'd get really bored in a hotel room," says Liam. You mean you don't with the same four faces staring back at you for 10 months at a time? And nor could they have done it without the fans. "I just wish I could go out and talk to each and every one of them," pines Niall, "but we'd get off schedule."

Disappointingly, it seems to be Liam Payne anointed as band spokesman, which is a shame because he's not necessarily the wittiest. "I just don't know where it goes from here," he says, shaking his head in wonderment at Madison Square Garden. Okay, then. I'd have liked to hear more from Louis, and tabloid-stirrer Harry.

What saves this from being one big extended fan-fest is a) the intimate access, and b) the directorial wit of Morgan Spurlock. This is most on show early on, when a behavioural scientist splits in two a model brain to show dopamine cruising around, thus explaining why fans get so happy when the boys appear at a balcony in Tokyo.

This was interesting and we needed more of it. Similarly thought-provoking was when Harry's mum, in New York to see her son perform at the world's most revered venue, wondered aloud when she would be needed to pick up the pieces, and how it was meant to be parents showing their children big cities, not the other way round.

This door of inquiry was also slammed shut pretty quickly, though, because it was time for... another venue, another number. There's a lot of live music in here, proving that at least the boys can all hold a note and move in unison. Sometimes at the same time.

It's funny, though, in the context of a film that tells us, and shows us, over and over again just how normal they all are - hugging their parents, visiting their grandparents, Harry even serving up a pie in the bakery where he used to work - that so much time is spent with them on stage, larger than life, in glorious 3D, proving over and over how extraordinary they are. It's almost like at the moment, when they're not performing or posing, dare I say it... there's not that much to say.

If you're after something thought-provoking and sociologically investigative, check out instead Channel 4's 'Crazy About One Direction'. But even the most rabid devotees in that documentary won't feel sold short by the amount of One-Directionness on display in 'This Is Us'. Which is fine and dandy, if you're a fan and the wrong side of the world from their next gig.

'One Direction: This Is Us' is in UK cinemas from 29 August. Premiere pictures below...


What's Hot