A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that One Direction: This Is Us follows the international concert tour of Britain's most popular boy band since the Beatles. The documentary, directed by Academy Award nominee Morgan Spurlock, chronicles how Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis went from being a bunch of humble British/Irish boys who could sing to becoming a near-overnight sensation -- first in the United Kingdom and then the world. There's some mild language (including a couple of uses of "ass"), several glimpses of the One Direction guys shirtless (including camera shots of their tattoos), and some romantic song lyrics. Fans -- particularly tween/teen girls -- will want to see this on the big screen.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Oscar-nominated director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) helms ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US, a 3D concert documentary that shows the 1D guys -- Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson -- on their first big international concert tour. In between on-stage sets of 1D performing everywhere from Madison Square Garden to Japan, Germany, France, Spain, Scandinavia, and back home at London's O2 Arena, the film chronicles their rise to superstardom -- from their middle-class beginnings to the fateful day producer Simon Cowell put them together on the British talent show The X Factor.
Is it any good?
As Zayn admits in one scene, yeah, One Direction "is a boy band, but it's a cool boy band." The five guys don't try to deny that they were completely manufactured by the music and marketing genius that is Cowell, but they also stand by their actual vocal talents. They're not just good-looking blokes Cowell saw walking down the street: They were already on a talent show, proving they could actually sing. And the guys, seemingly humbled by their remarkable near-overnight success, also acknowledge that they aren't amazing dancers (like Usher and Justin Bieber) or prolific songwriters (like Harry's ex, Taylor Swift).
What One Direction is good at is harmonizing and making even the youngest of fans (usually girls) squeal with excitement ... like that other English boy band that started out singing pop ditties. The mates are ridiculously charming, and, despite their tattoos, are clean cut enough to be even a single-digit-aged girl's first celebrity crush. Although the film does explore the guys' home lives, there aren't any huge emotional revelations like in Katy Perry's film. Sure, there's much more to these guys than what's included here (for example, Zayn recently got engaged), but for a starter look at how they went from singing in their showers to selling out stadium arenas, This Is Us is as catchy and surface-cute as the band's songs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about One Direction's meteoric rise. Do you think concert documentaries should be reserved for artists with years in the business, or does it make sense to capitalize on popularity right away?
Do you think the documentary offers a balanced look at the band members' personal lives and their professional lives? What were you surprised they included? What about 1D do you wish you had learned more about?
- In theaters: August 30, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 17, 2013
- Cast: Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik
- Director: Morgan Spurlock
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild language
- Last updated: April 16, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love music and documentaries
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch