'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never': Critics don't completely hate it
It was natural to expect that reviewers wouldn't care for "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never." After all, film critics are (supposedly) hardened, crusty, generally over-the-age-of-40 people who don't understand the sublime nuances of "Baby," Bieber memes and combed-forward haircuts. How could they possibly like a 3-D Justin Bieber biopic?
Well, surprise. Some critics are giving the movie positive, or at least halfway decent, reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently possesses a 62 percent fresh rating. Granted, that score drops a bit, to 53 percent, when you filter by "top critics." But still, it's a better average than the reviews yielded for the most recent movies starring Natalie Portman ("No Strings Attached": 52 percent), Anthony Hopkins ("The Rite": 16 percent) and Jennifer Aniston ("Just Go With It": 27 percent).
The Post's David Malitz -- who, for the record, is not hardened, crusty or over 40 -- gives "Never Say Never" 2 1/2 stars.
"'Never Say Never' is sort of like the featured piece of a political nominating convention," he writes. "It’s a fluffy, mildly inspiring, celebration of the hero leading up to his big moment. In this case it’s not potential leadership of the free world, but instead a concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden that is seen as the culmination of a whirlwind couple of years that saw Bieber rise from Canadian YouTube sensation to international heartthrob. It plays to the base, and if it wins over a few newbies, all the better."
Here are a few other choice review bites.
"Did I like Never Say Never, which weaves slick 3D concert footage from Madison Square Garden with fun behind-the-scenes tomfoolery and archival footage of Bieber as the cutest baby in the history of babies? Yes, I actually did. As did my 7-year-old daughter, who sat next to her dad and kept shouting, 'Biebs sure does take his shirt off a lot!'"
"[Director John] Chu shoehorns patronizing footage of Bieber's people giving away tickets to fans and plucking girls to be serenaded onstage. He's telling the story that Bieber's handlers want you to hear. But at least the movie tells a story."
Mike Hale of the New York Times is slightly less of a fan:
"[Chu] points the camera 180 degrees away from the star a fair bit of the time, and that view introduces a queasy note of apprehension into the otherwise wholesome picture. Occasionally you see a fan whose senses are particularly deranged by her love for Mr. Bieber, and you hope that his security team has her picture on file."
The Village Voice's Nick Pinkerton is decidedly unimpressed:
"There’s no scrimping on the Bieber here -- we see him serenading onstage, shirtless in the dressing room, in home videos, and in 'candid' hometown visits -- but he’s a curiously vague presence, obscured in the shadow of this monument to his brand."
But Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gives "Never Say Never" a B-plus:
"Justin Bieber: Never Say Never may be the concert film as glorified promotional product, but it captures a genuine youthquake."
Do any of these reviews pique your interest enough to make you consider seeing the Bieber biopic? Or were you already planning to sneak into a matinee while wearing those convenient 3-D glasses as a means to conceal your identity?
| February 11, 2011; 8:55 AM ET
Categories: Justin Bieber, Movies, Music
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