Justin Bieber's Believe (PG)

Documentary 91 min. December 25, 2013
By Nick Murray
In Never Say Never, the original Bieber biopic, we met the young pop star as a virtuoso, a kid who played every instrument, sang like an angel and had hair that must have required some sort of deal with the devil. It reassured both skeptic chaperones and devoted fans that here was a teen icon that Pop Inc. had discovered, not manufactured. Believe, on the other hand, shows us an artist at work. This time around, the most important hair isn’t that which swoops off his scalp and across his forehead (those hairs, alas, have been cut) but a few barely-there strands between his nose and his upper lip. That mustache, in turn, symbolizes everything this film intends to be about, some unspecified combination of struggle, maturity, faith and self-determination. Structurally, the film mostly retraces the steps Never Say Never already trod. We see Bieber in concert, of course, and in between songs we see him in the studio, mobbed by fans and goofing off. As it turns out, Believe’s most difficult task isn’t accounting for its star’s increasingly wild behavior — charming almost to a fault, he comes across as mature as (and certainly more driven than) your typical teenager – but convincing the viewer that promotions like the one where his manager makes young girls bawl by giving them concert tickets aren’t at all exploitative. These clips seem to be about conditioning girls that if they want to be true Beliebers, they would do best to respond this way as well.
Jon M. Chu Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Usher, Rodney Jerkins, Ludacris, Garrett Grant Justin Bieber, Scooter Braun, Usher Raymond, Bill O'Dowd, Garrett Grant Open Road

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