Justin Bieber’s Believe is eye candy for the fans
Featuring Justin Bieber. Rated G. Now playing
All the fuss is moot now that Justin Bieber has announced his retirement. Retirement? I can hear what Frank Sinatra, late master of the faux hiatus, would say: “Forget it, kid. I got hair plugs older than you, and they’re still workin’!”
Of course, Bieb manager Scooter Braun has since explained that his ward was just kidding around—and it’s good to know that the 19-year-old phenom can rely on clarification from a man called Scooter. Braun, who also reps Carly Rae Jepsen, produced this quick-moving concert documentary, along with Bieber and R & B star Usher Raymond. They don’t pretend it’s anything more than a glorified tour program, and, as such, it won’t appeal to people unlikely to attend a Bieber event, except perhaps while chaperoning kids too young to go on their own.
Director Jon M. Chu, who handled the previous Bieber movie and also designed the truly spectacular Believe tour we follow (with most footage coming from a Miami show), strikes a good balance between interviews, concert numbers, rehearsals with talented dancers, and interesting studio time, with the Ontario-born singer improvising for producers like will.i.am and Rodney Jerkins.
Beside old home movies of pre-tattoo Bieber, there are snippets of fan footage, including one of a preteen girl squealing at her parents’ surprise gift of JB tickets. “That’s enough now,” you hear the dad say, off camera. “Really, that’s enough.” Someone should have said that to Chu, who at one point alternates images of screaming stadium tweens with black-and-white footage of Beatlemaniacs in full cry. The parallel makes some kind of sense, playing on manipulable emotions that are always with us; but it’s also a shameful attempt to coattail a lesser artist to a level of communion that young Brown Eyes and his Beliebers are unlikely to achieve.
Our subject doesn’t come off as particularly articulate or thoughtful, but he may be capable of outgrowing his current pallid fare and reaching for more. The unquantifiable nature of belief in the vaguely possible is constantly touched upon here, on-stage and off. That’s why the movie’s not called Know for Sure.