A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Stands out for positive messages.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in the short documentary Justin Bieber: Next Chapter, Bieber admits he was at past points in his life suicidal. This theme is explored in his newly released song, "Lonely," about a 15-year-old boy struggling with fame (we see clips from the music video here). Expectant fans will jump on the YouTube release of this 25-minute piece, and they'll probably be relieved that Bieber's life has turned around, thanks to his belief and trust in God, a happy marriage, and a creative career. He says he agreed to be the subject of this new short film in order to share his message of hope. The film focuses quite a lot on his faith in God, his trust in God's plan, and the lessons he takes from Jesus's life. His pastor appears in scenes, as do colleagues and friends, talking about Bieber's emotional growth, past and present. Some language is heard in conversations and lyrics, including "dope," "pimps," "damn" and "suck." Fans will enjoy the insight into Bieber's relationship with his wife, Hailey. The two talk about the work that marriage requires as well as the beauty of sharing everything, including your weaknesses, with another person. They are seen kissing and snuggling in multiple scenes. Bieber's positive message for young people is to be yourself, believe in your own value, trust in God, and listen to those who build you up rather than those who tear you down or try to control you.
What's the story?
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEXT CHAPTER is exactly that: a discussion of the latest phase in the 26-year-old singer's life, which he describes as his happiest, most stable and secure. It offers a kind of extension, or next chapter, following the 10 episodes of Justin Bieber: Seasons. The documentary will provide not just a reflection of Bieber at this new stage, but it could also serve as a time capsule for future fans of this year's imposed quarantine due to the COVID pandemic. This documentary was made during the eight months of "quarantine" at home after Bieber's tour was canceled due to the pandemic. Bieber talks directly to camera in interviews, and he interacts with friends, colleagues, and his wife. In the film, he's just put out new song "Lonely," which leads to conversations about his own difficult past, and he plans an appearance on Saturday Night Live. In a couple of scenes, he's seen writing a letter to his 15-year-old self, where he says not to let others dictate how you see yourself but to look instead to God's perfect love.
Is it any good?
The cynical view of a documentary like Justin Bieber: Next Chapter is that it's a blatant exercise in music promotion or narcissism (or both). But there's something so earnest in the way the young celebrity talks about his own growth and journey that it nearly cuts through any such cynicism. Bieber is only 26, but he's been in the spotlight for more than half his life. These documentaries seem to be cathartic for him in addition to providing fodder for his legions of fans, the so-called Beliebers.
Bieber and friends -- including his manager, producers, other musicians, his pastor and his wife -- sit around talking about, well, mostly Bieber, reflecting on his growth, his beliefs, and his hopes for what kind of a man he wants to be. (Side note: For a COVID quarantine, he's got a lot of people around him.) An especially interesting scene shows his manager, Scooter Braun, and others who've worked with him since he was a teenager, admitting how much they worried about him when he was younger. This scene raises some questions, which might prompt viewers to check out previous documentaries, if they haven't already seen them. But the kid seems alright today, and viewers of this documentary will wish him well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the choice to film and talk about one's life, as the musician does in Justin Bieber: Next Chapter and previous documentaries. What do you think is his motivation?
The film shows snippets from Bieber's music video, "Lonely." What themes do you take away from that video? What other Bieber songs have autobiographical components?
Lots of people aspire to be rich and famous. According to this film, what do you think are some of the pros and cons of being a celebrity? Parents, talk to your kids about your own values concerning a family's financial needs and choosing a career path.
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