It was only a matter of time before someone made a concert film about One Direction, but I never could have guessed it would be Morgan Spurlock, the guy who gave us the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Supersize Me’ and the FX cable series ’30 Days’. When I asked Spurlock about his career and why, out of all the musicians and performers in the world, he chose to film ‘One Direction’, he simply explained, “I wanted to tell a story on a band that was nothing a year or two ago, but is now at the top of the charts.” I get where Spurlock is coming from, but he must have had studio execs hovering over him at all times, because this feels more like promo spot for the band than a documentary.
Unfortunately, I imagine that ‘One Direction: This Is Us’ will make loads of money, due to the boy band’s rabid fan base. I’d never even heard of One Direction before I saw the movie, but come to find out, Simon Cowell is to blame. In his short interview, Cowell takes full credit for the band doing so well.
The film takes us on a 100-city worldwide tour. We go backstage with the guys, and even back to their hometowns. Professional concert footage is interspersed throughout. The movie really offers no insight behind the scenes at all. It seems to only consist of the boys clowning around, pulling pranks and talking to the press. Some of the kids’ parents are interviewed occasionally to tell us about their humble beginnings, and how they’re still down to earth even though they’re superstars now. Other segments show the band interacting with fans by standing on their hotel balconies and waving at the gigantic crowds of insane girls below. Somebody thought it would be funny to have some of the bandmates get made up to look like roadies and go out on the concert floor before the show starts, yelling “One Direction sucks!” It feels completely staged, as if everyone is reading from a script.
The music couldn’t be worse. It’s cheesy and sappy, with no real message. Sure, the boys might be able to carry a note from time to time, but none play instruments, with the exception of one who attempts a few guitar chords that my six-year-old cousin could play just as well. Their dance choreography is dull and uninspired, and half the time doesn’t sync up with the rest of the show. It might have been nice to see the actual musicians playing their music on-screen, but they’re left out here.
Spurlock injects some 3D effects into the concert footage that might excite the type of people who will rush out to see this band, but other than that, don’t expect spectacular 3D. I can only assume that Spurlock wanted to make a different movie entirely, and was shut down by managers and execs. Hopefully ‘One Direction: This is Us’ will make enough cash to pave the way for Spurlock to make more meaningful films, as he’s done before.
If you dare venture into a theater for this weak concert film, bring earplugs.
I had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down with director Morgan Spurlock. As it turns out, we had a lot in common. After we discussed why he chose One Direction to document, we geeked out on ‘The Simpsons’, Steve Martin, horror movies, Fangoria magazine and much more. Despite how this one turned out, Spurlock is a great filmmaker and I can’t wait to see his next project.