Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: The Hair! The Tweets! The Brand!

This Bieber movie, a concert experience and origin-myth documentary, is not good—not that it needs to be. It is draggily paced and lacks felicity of form; the 3-D is a rip-off and the songs are pap, save for a snippet of Etta James singing "At Last" while Bieber's glossy fringe sways in slow motion. The buildup to a Madison Square Garden climax-concert roughly structures Never Say Never; a throat infection creates the threat of cancellation, before "Get well" tweets reinforce Bieber's rededication to the showbiz grind and "u," the fans. Interspersed is a retelling of Bieber's journey from small-town boy in Stratford, Ontario, to the outbreak of Bieber Fever. A convincing case is made that the YouTube phenom was a talented kid with a knack for sponging up Top-20 radio styles when promoter "Scooter" Braun discovered him. From there, the movie admiringly details the stoking of a phenomenon by Braun and Team Bieber; ennobling marketing hustle, JB: NSN is like A Hard Day's Night half devoted to Brian Epstein. There's no scrimping on the Bieber here—we see him serenading onstage, shirtless in the dressing room, in home videos and "candid" hometown visits—but he's a curiously vague presence, obscured in the shadow of this monument to his brand.

 
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