ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US
H H 1/2 I I
Cast: Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Simon Cowell
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Running time: 1:33
Rating: PG; for mild language You could be forgiven for rolling your eyes last summer at the news that last summer’s flashy pre-fab pop phenomenon One Direction would be releasing a concert documentary this summer.
Forgiven by everyone save their fans, who might pout for suggesting that one summer’s boy band craze is the next summer’s old news.
But “One Direction: This is Us” still has a popularity wave to ride a full year after “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Live While We’re Young” dominated the airwaves. So stop the eye-rolling.
This film captures the five British lads hand-picked by Simon Cowell to go where NKOTB, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync have gone before — up the charts and into arenas around the world. Caught at their peak, they come off as the clean-cut fulfillment of millions of teen and tween-age girl fantasies.
It’s not that different from the Justin Bieber doc, or the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus concert films — sanitized, packaged — presenting these five British or Irish boys, ages 19-21, as paragons of pop virtue while others vouch for what “rebels” they are and that they have “edge.”
Yeah, they’ve got vast tattoo collections and they’re not shy about losing a shirt and yanking each other’s trousers down on stage in choreographed bits of tomfoolery. We see Harry, Liam, Louis, Zyan and Niall bonding on a tour bus across Europe, a camping trip in Sweden and the occasional stroll down a public street — until they’re recognized and mobbed.
It’s a chipper, cheerful portrait with nary a discouraging word in it. And after Katy Perry’s much more revealing and dramatic “Part of Me” film, it’s disappointing that Indie filmmaker sell-out Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) didn’t have the access, the footage or the spine to depict any of the cynicism behind such creations, which are manufactured by pop Svengalis.