One Direction: This Is Us
What It Is
In which the lads sing and dance, clown about, stay in hotels, and go camping too.
Though it’s termed a documentary, really, One Direction: This Is Us is a set of scenes on display for fans. These fans know exactly what’s coming, the story of One Direction’s origin by way of The X Factor in 2010, their love of music, fashion choices, and fun-loving boys’ friendships with one another, and oh yes, their devotion to their fans.
The film, directed by Morgan Spurlock, traces a bit of history, using TV footage and interviews with the boys, Simon Cowell, and oh yes, fans. It tracks them over the course of a tour, such that they can perform each song in a different venue, culminating in a grand scene at London’s famous O2 Arena. The selected songs — including “Gotta Be You,” “Kiss You,” “I Want,” and “Best Song Ever” — may not be so utterly different from one another, but they make clear why their fans love them. These are boys whose appeals are sweet, amiable, and non-threatening (see also: Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync), whose lyrics are simple.
Apart from these choreographed performances, beautifully shot with expensive cameras and rigs, the film includes as well a series of interviews, many with the singers, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and some others with their mums (and one with a dad). Everyone sounds appropriately grateful for their many opportunities, and occasionally surprised by their great good fortune.
In between the performances and the interviews, the film includes some antics too. These tend to be predictable but still fun, as the boys wave to fans (one bit has them on a rooftop, quieting screaming girls and then rousing them with mere waves of their arms, much to the boys’ surprise and delight), run around backstage, and make funny faces. While they do go home, to their individual homes, for a short period during the tour, the primary time off activity in the film is an overnight camping trip. Here they ponder the turn in their lives and tell each other and you — again — how lucky they feel to be spending these formative years together, as best mates and best friends forever. And oh yes, how lucky they feel to have such awesome fans.
Why It’s Fun
The bulk of the film’s energy comes in the performances, which are lively, if sometimes repetitive (the shot from over the drummer’s head pops up more than a few times, no matter the venue where the band might be appearing). The camerawork is athletic, the performers are earnest and oh yes, the fans are passionate.
During their interviews, the boys reveal that they are indeed charming, in their prepackaged ways. Each has a style of dressing and speaking, each affirms his admiration of his mates, and each looks lovely in his close-ups.
Who’s Going To Love It
Fans of One Direction will love it.
Fans of Morgan Spurlock, whose previous films include examinations of famous corporate marketing campaigns, such as Super Size Me and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, might engage in such a campaign himself. Suffice it to say that he markets this band very well.
What To Be Aware Of
Some mild language, including one use of “damn.”
On a couple of occasions, a couple of the boys appear in their underwear while dressing for shows.
Girls cry, owing to their undying love for the band.
7 out of 10
One Direction: This Is Us
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Cast: Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson
Studio: Sony Pictures
US General Release: August 30, 2013
UK General Release: August 29, 2013