February 2, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 36°F


Teenage Canuck stands by fans

There’s a reason why Bieber Fever is sweeping the nation. If anything, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” turns up the temperature, making this epidemic a pandemic.

The inspiring true story of the teenage pop star opens with a fictional e-mail linking to recognizable viral videos, such as the sneezing panda. After the goofy videos, Bieber’s infamous Chris Brown cover of “With You” pops up. The rest of the film hones in on producer Scooter Braun’s discovery of Bieber — turning the youngster from a YouTube sensation into a Grammy Award nominee.

Every scene in the film is tied together by the same medium that got Bieber to where he is today — the Internet. The movie begins with a promotional-type countdown 10 days before his first show at Madison Square Garden. Centered around this sold-out performance on his My World Tour, the movie transposes his life on tour with archival and interview footage, giving viewers a glimpse into his world.

While Bieber’s tunes take over most of the film, the musical score by Deborah Lurie sets the pace. Her original take on familiar songs, such as a contemporary twist on Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” during a fan montage, blends well with both Bieber’s original tracks and covers.

The quick editing on top of masterful cinematography makes for a beautiful movie. Though some of the archival footage doesn’t lend itself well to the big screen, Bieber’s vocal performance in each concert clip puts the less-than-great visuals out of mind.

Director Jon Chu stands by Bieber’s mantra of “for-and-by-the-fans” by including umpteen fan interviews and YouTube videos. Images of preteen girls crying and scenes of Braun giving out VIP tickets show the teen sensation’s loyalty to his roots.

Special appearances by Boys II Men along with Sean Kingston, Usher, Miley Cyrus and Ludacris make for one of the best concerts of all time. The explosiveness of the concert itself set against the heartfelt story of Bieber’s discovery leaves a sense of mixed emotions that adds depth to the film.

It’s not just one 16-year-old’s story but a story of the American Dream — even if it’s told from a Canadian perspective. This movie is bound to leave fans and haters alike in tears, but it will also have them saying, “I will never say never.”

“Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” was directed by Jon Chu.

3 out of 4 stars