Never Say Never
By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
Teenybopper ecstasy comes to the local multiplex with the arrival of "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" (Paramount).
Pop sensation Justin Bieber in a scene from the 3-D film "Never Say Never."
Happily for parents, this genial 3-D profile of the 16-year-old pop singer and musician not only provides entirely wholesome entertainment—threatening only in the sense that frenzied audience members may screech themselves hoarse—it also includes several scenes of prayer testifying to its subject's Christian faith.
Along with photos and home movies from Bieber's childhood in Stratford, Ontario, the film showcases footage chronicling his rise from street musician—sometimes performing on the sidewalk outside his hometown's Avon Theater—to stardom. His ascent to fame was a thoroughly up-to-date and perhaps groundbreaking one in that it was initially launched by, and continually fueled through his grass-roots celebrity on social media outlets such as YouTube.
Interspersed with these retrospective scenes are performances from Bieber's 2010 world tour. The buildup to his climactic appearance at New York's Madison Square Garden—tickets to which, we learn, sold out in 22 minutes— comprises what there is of a plot, while a modicum of suspense is introduced when Bieber contracts a sore throat only a few days before his big Gotham moment.
Inundated with get-well tweets, he responds with characteristic politeness.)
What emerges through it all, under Jon M. Chu's direction, is the portrait of a likable young man striving to resist the temptations of sudden-onset acclaim.
Bieber bids well to do so, thanks in large measure to his close bonds with his mother—Bieber's parents split while he was still quite young—and grandparents and to his sharing in their evangelical-style piety. By way of testimony to this spiritual inheritance, we witness the prayers he and his entourage recite before each show.
As for anything remotely objectionable, especially fastidious guardians will note that one adult fan explains, with reference to her age-atypical interest in Bieber, "I don't want him that way," while the lad himself describes a health drink he's being encouraged to swallow as tasting like "dinosaur pee."
But then, one imagines even Donny Osmond has been heard to say worse.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences.
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
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