A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Justin Bieber's Believe is a concert documentary that follows the international popstar on his Believe tour, particularly his two nights in Miami in January 2013. Like Never Say Never, the movie is directed by Jon M. Chu and includes concert footage, behind-the-scenes interviews with the artist and his music team, as well as a look at the other artists involved in putting on his concerts, like the choreographer, stylist, and back-up dancers. There's no violence or language, but a few of the songs do have some slightly more mature and suggestive lyrics (but nothing too risque). There is one sad sequence that chronicles Bieber's relationship with a dying young superfan. The movie, like the album, hopes to inspire Bieber fans to believe in themselves and their dreams.
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What's the story?
In JUSTIN BIEBER: BELIEVE, Jon M. Chu returns to direct not only a second documentary but also to join the Bieber team as creative director of his 2012-2013 concert tour. Unlike Never Say Never, which was glossy and 3D and heavily promoted, Believe is a more modest film that concentrates less on Justin Bieber's backstory and more on his need to justify his place in the music industry and to thank his throngs of fans for believing in him. The movie follows Bieber and his team as they work with world-renowned producers on songs, release the Believe album, and show their fans their gratitude in various ways throughout the tour.
Is it any good?
Even if you're not a fan, you'll be impressed, if not overly entertained, by Bieber's showmanship and hard work. But none of these concert documentaries about young artists -- whether it's Bieber, One Direction, the Jonas Brother, or Katy Perry -- is going to compare to Martin Scorsese's epic chronicles of musical legends like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, or George Harrison, and that's totally fine. At 19 years old, there isn't that much ground to cover, and the more fascinating bits -- how he's dealing with minor publicity debacles -- aren't mentioned with the exception of one run-in with a British paparazzo. What Chu does include this time around is a secondary set of interviews with tour choreographer Nick De Moura and his crew of talented back-up dancers as they audition and then perform alongside the Biebs.
Bieber is clearly on a mission to not be reduced to a fad with a great boot-strapping backstory. He wants to prove he's going to beat the odds ala Usher (one of the movie's producers and a personal friend of Bieber's) or the industry's other Justin (Timberlake). JB's career-long manager Scooter Braun talks at length about why Bieber is a true musician -- a songwriter, a vocalist, and a multi-instrumentalist -- who deserves to work with the best producers in the biz (we see at least four of them sing Bieber's praises). The film is at its best when it just shows Bieber's performances and doesn't try to give us the hard sell about his talents. A sequence about Bieber's relationship with a dying 6-year-old fan, Avalanna Routh, seems genuine enough to elicit tears from moviegoers, and in the end, if you're a fan (even a male or adult fan -- they exist!), you will feel vindicated in your admiration. But please, let's lay off on another concert documentary until he's at least 25.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how every generation has huge musical acts. What is the difference between those who go the distance and those who can't evolve as they grow older? Do you think Justin Bieber will still be around in another five or ten years?
Do you consider Bieber a role model? If so, does he have a responsibility to his fans? Does the fact that he got mad at the paparazzi change your mind about him or does it just make him more human?
The director, Jon Chu, returns but not just as a director this time, but also as a creative director of the entire concert tour. How does that affect the film's objectivity about Bieber?
- In theaters: December 25, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: April 8, 2014
- Cast: Justin Bieber, Ludacris, Usher
- Director: Jon M. Chu
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief language and mild thematic material
- Last updated: August 24, 2020
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