Film Review: ‘Justin Bieber’s Believe’

Justin Bieber’s Believe Movie Review

Concert pic says it ain't easy being the king of teen pop. Non-Beliebers need not apply.

It’s every bit as enthusiastically admiring and image-enhancing as you’d expect a documentary co-produced by its title subject to be. Still, “Justin Bieber’s Believe” is a slickly entertaining piece of work that will doubtless delight the young pop star’s fan base, and possibly engage curiosity seekers who have heretofore remained immune or indifferent to Bieber Fever. Director Jon M. Chu’s follow-up to his similarly celebratory “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” (2011) won’t likely match the earlier film’s $99 million worldwide haul — and not just because this 2D feature can’t rely on that pic’s 3D bump — but homevid biz could be impressive.

Continuing his role as Bieber’s authorized biographer, Chu deftly mixes spectacular performance sequences with backstage interviews and observations, along with ample footage of ecstatically screaming female fans. (At one point, Chu audaciously intercuts visual comparisons between Bieber Fever and Beatlemania.)

There’s a pronounced increase in actual concert footage in this latest chapter, along with myriad indications that the fresh-faced innocent on view in “Never Say Never” has grown more mature and guarded, and much more self-aware, as his phenomenal career continues apace. Just as important, there is a mild but discernible tension percolating just below the film’s surface — a teasing hint that, no matter what Bieber achieves as an entertainer, he has already begun to realize that each new accomplishment can quickly turn into a proverbial hard act to follow.

On the other hand, “Believe” also suggests that the indefatigably spirited Bieber still has a sense of humor about himself. Early in the documentary, he self-mockingly admits that his wispy excuse for a mustache is a “delusional” attempt to appear more grown-up. Later, we’re shown a generous except from the instant-classic “Funny or Die” segment in which a hectoring interviewer (Zach Galifianakis) delivers Bieber an old-fashioned belt-whipping as punishment for such purported misdeeds as publicly urinating in buckets (and, apparently, stealing Vanilla Ice’s hairdo).

Maintaining the ability to laugh at yourself probably comes in handy for someone in Bieber’s position, which “Believe” locates as dead-center in a bull’s-eye. Even as various friends and collaborators repeatedly attest to the seriousness with which Bieber approaches his work, the young phenom just as frequently speculates that, after rising so high in such a short amount of time, he has aroused the ire of haters who now are waiting — and hoping — for an equally speedy downfall.

“Believe” is not exactly a deeply serious study of fame and its transformative effects. But Chu stops far short of becoming a celebrity apologist while enabling his audience to appreciate how bumpy the ride can be sometimes for someone flying at Bieber’s current altitude. Noting the very public flameouts of such notables as Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, the filmmaker bluntly tells his subject: “You are a perfect candidate to become a train wreck.” Bieber quickly dismisses that notion, but it’s easy to see that he has considered the possibility.

In addition to directing the film and appearing on camera as one of Bieber’s intimates, Chu also served as artistic designer of the extravagant stage show for Bieber’s 2012-13 “Believe” tour. Highlights from that show are scattered throughout the documentary, ranging from the exuberantly silly (Bieber appears to hover on wings constructed from his favorite musical instruments) to rousingly razzle-dazzle. Easily the movie’s most affecting moment occurs when Bieber momentarily breaks down while paying tribute to a young fan with whom he bonded before she lost her battle with cancer.

The stage show also showcases a lengthy video that smacks of cheeky revenge fantasy, with Bieber doing hand-to-hand (and foot-to-head) damage to the ninja-like paparazzi who relentlessly pursue him. The mayhem is all the more amusing because it comes not long after “Believe” introduces news footage of Bieber’s real-life clash with aggressive Brit photographers.

Production values — especially the sound mix — are first-class across the board. As for the music itself: If you like this sort of stuff, this is the sort of stuff you’ll probably like, a lot. And if you don’t, well, you wouldn’t willingly buy a ticket to “Believe” in the first place, right?

Film Review: 'Justin Bieber's Believe'

Reviewed at Edwards Grand Palace 24, Houston, Dec. 25, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 91 MIN.

Production

(Documentary) An Open Road Films release presented with Dolphin Films of a Bieber Time Films/Scooter Braun Films production in association with Island Def Jam Music Group. Produced by Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Bill O’Dowd and Usher Raymond IV. Co-producers, Anthony Leo, Andrew Rosen, Whitney Brown. Executive producers, Charlie Cohen, Sarah Landman, Brad Haugen, Scott Manson, Allison Kaye Scarinzi. 

Crew

Directed by Jon M. Chu. Camera (color), Karsten "Crash" Gopinath; editors, Avi Youabian, Jillian Moul; music, Nathan Lanier; music supervisor, Chris "Tek" O'Ryan; choreographer, Nick DeMoura; sound (Dolby Digital), Juan Nunez, Ray Rifice, Andy Theiss; re-recording mixers, Cory Mandel, Frank Morrone; associate producers, Heather McKay, Alize Emme, Joanna Lamb, Victoria Mejia; assistant director, Kellie JoTackett. 

With

Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Ryan Good, Usher Raymond IV, Pattie Mallette, Jeremy Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, will.i.am, Jon M. Chu, Zach Galifianakis.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 26

Leave a Reply

26 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Alex says:

    Nice review Joe, I quoted you on TenSecondScoop.com – thanks :)

    http://www.tensecondscoop.com/justin-biebers-believe/

  2. Doug says:

    take a month off your great stay in there but no who too trust

  3. Josh M. says:

    Society makes no sense at all. One article about this kid doing something “bad” and people judge him saying he is a “douche” or “he doesn’t care about his fans”. When the media captures something good, they say “beiber is just doing it to get attention” or “he’s only helping out those THOUSANDS OF KIDS to make him look good”. No matter what Justin does, the public will always find something bad out of it.

  4. Dorothy S. says:

    I saw the film and loved it. Justin Bieber is really a good kid trying to do all the right things but having to live with all the pressure it may be hard for him. Actually, I know that he is doing a lot of charity, helping others, etc. but you don’t hear about that.
    Please give him a break. I wish Justin and his fans a very Happy New Year. With love, Dottie

  5. Mark Rimmell says:

    Time to grow up little one..
    ‘cuz’ by the way does not exist in the English language ..’cause’ meaning ‘because’does….Just a little language lesson for you..Enjoy the film.!!!

  6. another hairy kardashian sister says:

    all you LIARS sayin you saw this movie and changed your opinion of him for the better. Oh right, cuz you’d be going to see the film even though you dont care for him? Of course you wouldnt! You were obviously a fan in the first place.

  7. Dusted and Disgusted says:

    Lil Justin got Black friends now and lost his damn mind. Smoking weed, trying to emmulate Tupac, fighting fat girls, doing grafitti and sleeping with prositutes. Can we fast forward to the beer belly and Meth habit?

  8. kenny says:

    its film 3D ? please reply yes or no.

  9. Kim Mattie and Mollie says:

    My kids and myself love the Beebs and we loved the movie, the movie revolves around his believe tour and if people had seen the tour they would understand the movie. Lay off the kid!! As he stated in the movie he is 19 yrs old he is gonna make mistakes.

  10. mal43 says:

    I hope he really does retire for awhile from the craziness surrounding him. He needs time to grow and mature as non celebrity youth get to do. We have seen too many sad and tragic stories about child stars who crash and burn. I think this would be a good chance for him to experience life ==not from a stage or tour bus. It has to be a hard life in spite of all the money.

  11. Mark Rimmell says:

    When i was much younger we had a saying that if you could not say something decent about a person better to button up..I do wonder at the mentality of these people who deliver opinions that seem to have no intelligence or critical faculties..
    You will always be with us..and that’s good, I guess..but a little thought ,soul and goodwill could hep you a lot.
    Have a great New Year as I am sure you wish Mr Bieber and all human kind..

    • another hairy kardashian sister says:

      he needs to button up and stop doing stupid juvenille things and being rude to fans calling them beached whales!

  12. rb says:

    My family went to see the 6 PM movie. The seats were more that 60% full with half being teens and other half being older adults. Their review of the movie is; they enjoyed themselves; great movie.
    Rotten tomato critic review: [H**p://wegotthiscovered.c*m/movies/justin-biebers-believe-review/]> this review and the bashing of Justin’s talent should put haters to shame. Even HL’s Bonnie Fuller gave the Believe movie a great review.

  13. Josh M. says:

    Was forced into watching this movie yesterday and it really has changed my opinion about him. Of course i’m not a “belieber” but I do have respect for him and what he goes through. The media will make up lies just to get a story. But the real story is right here, in this movie. Paparazzis don’t capture the good things this kid does. Like I said, not a fan, but I do respect him, and maybe that’s just all he needs.

  14. Jim says:

    And he’s retiring…P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.P.R.

  15. Mark Rimmell says:

    I am not of any sort of an age to be a Bieber fan..but having experienced the early days of Johnny Ray who became a friend in the 1970s and The Beatles especially Paul who I met many time in London near his home.

    I spoke to both of them about the world of fame they inhabited…They agreed that it was a bumpy ride…A Yellow Brick Road that neither of them was pepared for..

    Over the years I met mostly film people since that became my unexpected professon ..I think meeting Marlon Brando in 1967 might be considered the equivalent of Bieber fans meeting their hero..

    I gave him my magical and mystical piece of amber from my collection.A stone which I have collected for 50 years .. I always wear this totem…The first thing I would give would be this tiny 20 million year bringer of good fortune..

    I read about this young man and his antics and his detractors will be swift in condemning the young man..
    He plays out his life warts and all in the public spotlight..and I for one do not envy him one little bit but he copes with it surprisingly well…

    The young man I dare to predict is not a here today and gone tomorrow phenomenen…He ,I am sure ,will blush a little at his antics but he is talented,charismatic and hopefully a talent that the next generation will still support.
    .
    Over my 80 years I have seen them come and self destruct..Young Mr Bieber with the right support and true friends to ground him a little will be here ,I predict, long after I am gone and I am still alive in my retired capacity of collecting and creating having recently created a gem stone crown for the World Top Model …including ,of course a tiny piece of amber…

    I will follow Mr Justine Biebers career and no doubt shudder ocassionally at his antics but he will survive those moments …He is a good person..May he and his family and friends have good fortune in the coming year and years to come..Support him with your love and the occasional word of advice..

  16. Greychancechick says:

    Believe is the best movie I have ever seen. Very emotional makes you cry, laugh, and think about life. @greychancechick –twitter

  17. jahjustin says:

    I knw that when some bieber haters see this believe movie they will love him

    • Asana says:

      You do realize this is just a tool to promote him? He’s an idiot and is average at best. Grow up and listen to real music.

      • Mark Rimmell says:

        Asana !!! The person to grow up, however young or old you are, is you..and of course it is a promotional tool..just as so many movies are..There are many movies subtely forming our opinions on race, on politics,on drugs etc….Would you have this young man do that..?
        What sort of music are you dictating people should listen to?…
        Perhaps you should allow a little space for people to form their own opinions..
        Make a New Years resolution to be tolerant of others ..You will feel so much more fullfilled..

      • Kayla says:

        This is not a tool stunt !!!!! Stop hating on him for no reason at all.!! Now please crawl up in a whole and die ! He is a good person! Stop believing everything you hear and actually use some common sense!

      • MoneyJones says:

        Exactly, a promotional tool. I find it amusing the die hard “Beliebers” think this is a fantastic piece of art and that it will “convert” the “haters” … those who love him will love this, those that don’t will see it for what it is…

      • BirkM says:

        Why not just say you are not planning on going to see this movie, instead blasting your hatred for him here? This is an article on the review of “Believe” the movie. I plan on going to see it. At least keep to the topic of whether you enjoyed it or not. Leave your hatred for somewhere else. This is a movie review, not a music review!

More Film News from Variety

Loading