The Dinner: Poutine and a bacon burger at Quinn's Pub (1001 E. Pike St.)
The Movie: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never at Regal Meridian 16 (1501 Seventh Ave.)
The Screenplate: Everyone is proud of Justin Bieber in his extravagant new movie, Never Say Never. He's sold out Madison Square Garden in 22 minutes. His grandpa wears purple in homage to his favorite color. His dad cries while watching him from the front row. At 16, Bieber has accomplished much. He truly is, to quote a recent Saturday Night Live sketch, "God's finest creation." That's what this movie--a documentary depicting Bieber's journey leading up to his MSG concert, with some Bieber baby videos adorably thrown in--is about. But before I go any further, I'm dividing this review in two, namely, into the two categories of people who are seeing Never Say Never--Bieber's Tween Fanatics and Others.For Bieber's Tween Fanatics: Here's all you need to know--Firstly, your legions are well-represented in the film, mainly via face-painted, screaming fans in line to see Bieber's show,
Secondly, your other patron saint, Miley Cyrus, appears in the film with pancaked makeup, a horrible mom haircut, and a disgusting dress about one inch away from a Miley crotch flash which would have robbed Never Say Never of its G-rating. She looks like a hunched-over 40-year-old hooker. And thirdly, speaking of teenage skin, Bieber appears shirtless in the movie pretty frequently--great for you all, for the rest of us a obvious and creepily strategic ploy, although Bieber does tell the camera it needs to leave when he changes his pants. There are Bieber boundaries.
Interestingly, all of the above Items of Tween Interest are the most discomforting parts of the film for the Rest of Us. Luckily, there is more to the film that these elements--yes, this movie is just more Bieber propaganda to go along with his albums and his action figures, but it's actually also a fascinating look inside the life of the world's most popular teenager.
Viewers can draw two conclusions from the movie. The first is, of course, that Bieber is a Wonder. He's a born performer. At an age when most of his peers are too nervous to stand in front of their class and read a book report, Bieber is singing his little heart out and executing a number of slick dance moves in front of thousands of rabid, uncontrollable girls at the world's most famous concert venue. And you know what? He looks great and sweet and cute doing it. Never Say Never includes quite a bit of concert footage from the gargantuan MSG concert, and these scenes are where the 3-D comes in thrillingly--when Bieber points at the screen, he's pointing at you! When Bieber's playing the piano and gazing into the camera, he's gazing at you! (For the rest of the film--interviews, travel scenes, etc., the 3-D is useless).
The film also hastens to attempt to point out that Bieber is a Regular Teen. He visits his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, and plays hoops with his old friends, although his grandma doesn't allow him to leave until he cleans his room. He can be bratty, his manager remarks that he doesn't know when to shut his mouth, and he whines when Usher makes him drink a healthy smoothie made of (gross!) green vegetables. But no matter how much this film tries, of course we all know that Bieber is not a Regular Teen. He is the King of Teens, and has been made such by his various handlers, which brings us to the second conclusion--Bieber is not very much in control of his own life.
Bieber detractors--a majority of whom wouldn't have a problem admitting to be Jackson 5 fans--like to go on about how Bieber's a product, a puppet, who only does what others tell him. To which I say: No shit. Do you really expect a 16-year-old to be managing his own global, multimillion-dollar career? Of course he has handlers--and this movie depicts an astonishing number of them. There's Scooter Braun, his manager, who "discovered" Bieber on YouTube; there's a wardrobe manager, a stylist, a musical director, security, a stage manager named Scrappy, and his vocal coach, who at one point when Bieber's feeling sick and can't sing asks him if he wants to go back to Canada. Bieber is a business. The hope and natural progression would be for him to take more charge of his career as he grows older--I for one believe that Bieber has longevity, mainly because there are a lot of things he can do for himself--play his guitar, play drums, piano.
But for now, he's got handlers whom he's forced to trust with decisions about his image, whether they're doing it because they love Bieber or because they love Bieber's money. And while some of what they come up with for young Bieber is fine and harmless, like studding his stage clothing with hearts, other instances are clearly overkill--like when Bieber floats above the audience in a giant steel heart-shaped contraption. It's too much, but it's what the tweens want. I hope that in time Bieber's able to break free of his handlers and prove to be a legitimate, long-lasting pop star. Timberlake did it, right? And he had much worse hair.
In Never Say Never, the rascally Bieber is shown begging his vocal coach for some McDonald's Chicken Nuggets, as well as eating a donut out of box that's been thrown in a trash can. Rather than spend my evening dumpster diving, I honor Canada's Most Profitable and Adorable Export by dining on Canada's Most Notable Culinary Export: poutine. Quinn's Pub on Capitol Hill serves up "frites, fontina fonduta, demi-glacé" for $8. The fries are appropriately crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, the cheese is creamy, the gravy is savory. It's an irresistible treat that Quinn's does well, although Bieber would no doubt disapprove of the green stuff--bits of chives--that litter the pile of fries. I followed the poutine with Quinn's Painted Hills beef burger ($13), which was a bit less appetizing--the bacon on top was almost raw, and the sandwich doesn't come with any veg. All that said, I'm still sure it was a more palatable burger than Bieber's favorite McDonald's.