Review: One Direction: This Is Us

Poster for 2013 music documentary One Direction: This Is Us

Genre: Documentary
Certificate: PG
UK Release Date: 29th August 2013
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Morgan Spurlock   
Starring: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson 
Synopsis: A study of the meteoric rise to fame experienced by boyband One Direction as they conquered the worldwide music market.




There’s no getting around it. One Direction are the biggest boyband in the entire world. Millions of people love them, but at the same time, fashion dictates that anyone with a brain should hate them. Without prejudice though, this music documentary is one of the best of the last few years.

Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock follows the British five piece as they embark on a huge worldwide tour, showcasing their rise to fame through The X Factor and the band’s growth to becoming a worldwide phenomenon.

One Direction: This Is Us is separated from the likes of Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never and Katy Perry’s Part of Me by its unique sense of fun. It doesn’t lean on its concert performances as heavily as other entries in the genre, leaving most of its intrigue in scenes of five talented lads mucking around with fame and the effect that this has had on those around them.

Some scenes, such as those involving the boys’ parents are genuinely touching. They discuss how their babies now don’t seem real to them and have just become images of famous people on lunchboxes. The moment in which Liam Payne’s mother buys a life-size cut out to put in his abandoned bedroom is both hilarious and heart-breaking.

It’s the uniquely Spurlock touches that truly make One Direction: This Is Us a hugely entertaining music documentary. In an early scene, a neurologist is brought in to explain the dopamine rush experienced by the band’s ‘Directioner’ fans. It’s a solid gag that makes for a strong opening to the film.

Equally amusing is the swift cutting from exuberant scenes of glitzy stage shows to mundane shots of dull activities. It continuously highlights the juxtaposition between how ordinary the guys are and the remarkable fame they have attained. There’s something both comical and disturbing about a huge crowd of Italians in Verona being controlled by the hand movements of a teenage Brit.

Unfortunately, One Direction: This Is Us is far from perfect. As interesting as the innovatively edited concert sections are, there are a few too many at the expense of the far more interesting chats with the band. There are also only so many times it’s tolerable to see tween girls screaming, crying and/or experiencing paroxysms of unbridled joy.

Despite that though, it’s really quite surprising how good One Direction: This Is Us turned out to be. So feel free to hate the Simon Cowell machine and feel free to hate manufactured pop music. However, definitely don’t use that as an excuse to hate five talented young men and this perfectly solid film.


Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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