Judge Jason Panella didn't realize that Simon Cowell was a mutant.
Experience Their Lives On the Road
You may have heard of One Direction. You know, British boyband—lots of teenage girls seem to like them? I guess they had some hit songs? Anyway, documentarian Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) was given unlimited access to follow the band around as they prepared and eventually launched a massive worldwide tour. The resulting film, One Direction: This Is Us, attempts to give fans an unprecedented look into the lives of the five 1D fellows. For Directioners (as fans call themselves), this will be cinematic gold. For everyone else, it's a super glossy promo piece that's as disarming as it is coldly slick.
Spurlock spends some time near the beginning of the film giving a brief history of One Direction, following the members (Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis) from their working-class upbringing in the UK (Ireland, in Niall's case) to their auditions on British competition show The X Factor. Simon Cowell (who also produced This Is Us) assembled the five together and while the band ultimately didn't win for that season, their crazy over-night success quickly made them a household name.
The director doesn't spend too much time here, though; the bulk of the movie focuses on the boys' live performances and their downtime between shows. The live performances look insane (Spurlock went nuts with 3D overlays for the movie's 3D theatrical release), but your mileage will of course vary depending on how interested you are in the music. The documentary is quick to point out how One Direction is different than other boy bands: they're all good friends, they don't care about their image or dance routines, and their music is squeaky clean and a bit edgy (but really not that edgy). They just want to be themselves, see, and have fun. They monkey around before shows, run from fans, and give lots of knowing winks to the camera. Much of the film made me think of A Hard Day's Night, which was probably intentional; there are more than a few comparisons made to the Beatles, from their humble upbringings to gonzo zeal of their fans. But the Beatles were effortlessly clever, and while the guys in One Direction come off as genuinely funny and good-natured their antics never even come close to touching the wit of the Fab Four.
Spurlock has said that This Is Us was in no way scripted, that all of the banter and thoughts were genuine. While I'm sure this is true, I wonder what didn't make it to the finished picture? The documentary seems so upbeat and predictably sentimental that the one word that comes to mind is "manufactured." Even as a non-fan, This Is Us held my attention…though I couldn't help but try to spot the line between fact and fiction. If you're a One Direction fan, however, you're probably going to love this.
Sony's "Ultimate Fan Edition" of One Direction: This Is Us includes the Blu-ray, DVD, and UltraViolet digital versions of the film. The Blu-ray also includes the "Extended Fan Cut" version of the film; while it's advertised as containing 20 minutes of bonus footage, it only adds up to 14 (and mainly comes in the form of four additional songs). The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic: the 1.85:1/1080p non-anamorphic widescreen transfer is gorgeous, with no noticed flaws. Same goes for the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which fills the speakers amply. The set comes with a decent-sized list of extras, though it's mainly quantity over quality: "Going Home" (16:55), a set of extended scenes that focus on the boys' families; "Extended Scenes" (8:50), two padded scenes from the film; "The 1D Family" (3:30), a look at Directioners and how the band brings them together in friendship (aww); "Before the Show" (3:15), "I Didn't Do It! (3:03), and "Hold That Pose" (3:08), all deleted scenes of the guys goofing off; "Best Song Ever" music video (6:16); "Up All Night!" (5:13), a short film/instrumental video; and trailers for four films.
Not guilty, though this one is probably for fans only.
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