3 / 10
2013. Starring: Liam Neeson as One Direction. Not really, but can you imagine?
Talk about Sophie’s Choice.
At first glance the two films looked pretty similar so I let Celia choose and, well, you know Celia. I could almost hear the Smurfs laughing at me from the other channel.
But I can’t blame it all on Celia, I admit I was a bit curious myself. “Why!?!” Calm down and I’ll tell you why. Because I, like other people with a TV, occasionally accidentally watch the news and I’ve seen the facts and I simply don’t understand them.
First band in US Billboard 200 history to have their first three albums debut at #1;
Estimated fortune of over $150 million;
26 million Facebook and 18 million Twitter followers;
First appearance at Madison Square Garden sold out in 10 minutes;
By international chart records, officially more successful than The Beatles;
And all before their 9th birthdays.
And so I decided to give the One Direction boys a chance to explain themselves and their ludicrous success.
In the protracted 90 minutes that followed, the closest they got to an actual explanation was a short interview with their birth mother, Simon Cowbell (LOL, good one auto-correct!). Cowbell uses maps, arrows, clips of hysterical teen girls and the assistance of a lab-coated neuropsychologist to fairly sensibly explain that One Direction’s success is the result of a potent combination of social media and explosive prepubescent female hormones. The Beatles, by comparison, had to make do with explosive prepubescent female hormones and talent.
In that regard, I did appreciate that the One Direction documentary respects its audience enough to not attempt to attribute the band’s success to any real abilities other than doing their hair good and speaking with myriad English accents.
I mean, take the little blonde haired one for instance. You know the one, looks like Ellen DeGeneres. He simply can’t sing. Like not a note. You can’t hide that on a live stage, no matter how fluro your sneakers are. The fact that he remains in the band suggests that he must have something on the others. Saw one of them drink drive through a children’s choir or something.
There is also a moment where Harry, the foppish one who tricked Taylor Swift into bed, fleetingly compares himself to Keith Richards. He knows it’s a mistake. As soon as he’s said it, there’s a flicker of regret in his eyes as he realises that if Keith Richards ever saw that clip he’d probably reach through the television screen and slap Harry back to the X-Factor. The flicker of regret is quickly followed by a flicker of relief as Harry realises that Keith Richards will never, ever, watch the One Direction documentary. …unless The Smurfs 2 is his only other option.
The film is basically a montage of clips that try to simultaneously show that the boys are (1) a worldwide phenomenon and (2) just a group of normal English lads having a good time. Of course, the more they push (1) the less you believe (2). They have two private jets – one for partying, one for sleeping. I’ve met a few groups of ‘normal English lads’ in my time and none of them had two jets. Most of them didn’t have two shoes.
The film also tries very hard to show what good friends the five guys are. I didn’t buy it. Even tools can spot a tool. At one point, one of the guys, the ferrety looking one, says “We’re just so lucky that there’s not one guy in the group who’s an absolute arse.” LoL. You know whenever someone in a group of friends says something like that, they’re the one, they’re the arse.
It seems inevitable that, sometime in the not too distant future, something even shinier than One Direction will roll past the world’s teenage girls and 1D’s fame will fade like a fart in the breeze. The music has no longevity. At the conclusion of 90 solid minutes of live show highlights and behind-the-scenes rehearsals, try as I might, I could only remember one song that they sung the entire time. And it was a cover. Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus. Great tune.
Despite all this, I think there probably was an interesting story to be told about One Direction. It would have involved a deeper look at the power of social media, the impressionability of young girls, what makes a fad, and Taylor Swift’s decision-making abilities. It would have had gritty interviews with obsessed fans and shown you bedroom walls that look like something out of The Manchurian Candidate. And you’d be forgiven for thinking that director Morgan Spurlock would have been the right person to tell that story. In his other famous film, Super Size Me, he eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. Making a documentary about One Direction is the logical next step in Spurlock’s efforts to destroy himself. But in exposing the cult, Spurlock somehow falls under the spell and becomes just another fanatical teenage girl adding his bra to the shrine in front of the One Direction stage.
So where does all this leave me? It leaves me with the nagging feeling that I should have chosen The Smurfs 2. I haven’t even seen The Smurfs 1.