Justin Bieber: Never Say Never takes a surprisingly captivating look at a teen phenom

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Watch the trailer for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.

      A documentary by Jon Chu. Rated G. Opens Friday, February 11

      What makes rabid fans of teenage pop phenom Justin Bieber shriek? And shriek. And shrieeek? At a screening of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, with an audience consisting almost entirely of hyperventilating tween and teen girls waving Bieber-approved glow sticks, the answer to that would be: everything.

      This surprisingly captivating documentary about the floppy-haired one just might convert the Biebz haters—meaning most human males and anyone who believes the mere existence of the singing Chia Pet signals that hell has opened up. And it will surely provoke more shrieks around the world from Beliebers, seven million of whom follow his every tweet.

      Counting down the final 10 days before a Madison Square Garden show, director Jon Chu’s doc is a mashup of a 3-D concert film and a Behind the Music episode. The concert stuff is slick and unexpectedly irresistible, delivering total immersion in audiences of bouncy, beatific, and weepy Biebermaniacs who know every word to fuzzy-kitty bubblegum songs such as “Baby”, “U Smile”, and “Never Let You Go”. But most interesting is simply Bieber himself and how this bangs-flipping moppet morphed into today’s equivalent of the Beatles.

      Except he didn’t morph, exactly. Never Say Never gives the Bieber tale straight from everyone, ranging from his startlingly young mother—does anyone know he was born to teenage parents?—and sweet grandparents to his comanagers, Scooter Braun and singer Usher. As an Internet-propelled phenomenon, the Bieber juggernaut is genuinely fascinating and infinitely cooler than the American Idol route.

      But video clips—from precocious bongo-playing at age two to a prepubescent Bieber’s charismatic Stratford, Ontario, street performances—show him doing what he clearly loves to do and does with inarguable talent: sing and perform. And that deserves a shriek or two—even if you don’t plan on marrying him, as practically every one of the charming, young interviewed fans intends to do.