Oh god no.
It’s time to share some thoughts and feelings I have felt and thought during ‘This Is Us: the One Direction Movie’, directed by, for reals, Morgan Spurlock.
I don’t know that much about One Direction. My friend Brent wrote this review of the film, and my regular artistic collaborator David Finig and I decided this was a MUST-SEE in our history of MUST-SEE celebrity biopics, in the vein of the Justin Bieber film and the Katy Perry film and the eventual PLEASE GOD Miley Cyrus film.
I invited along our friend Nickamc who is a composer and sound designer who sat down, looked at the film unfolding before him and said: “this is manipulative.”
You know what? He’s wrong. You’re wrong, Nickamc. It wasn’t manipulative, because it wasn’t anything. This was ninety minutes of nothing. Not one thing happened. Not a tear ran down my cheek, not a rush ran down my spine. It was like being a stapler set in some jelly in a bad office prank. You occasionally rolled a bit with the punches, but nothing more. You just stewed in some filth that smelt like raspberry and regret, and it cost $19.
Thanks, Morgan Spurlock.
So I thought I’d at least make this experience worthwhile by sharing some of the key realisations I had during this 90 minutes of stasis.
One Direction are a pack of cheeky boys who have ill-advised tattoos sprinkled all over them and they just don’t give a shit.
Why are they making music? Shrug. Why are they working together? Shrug. Is there a trajectory for their lives once this wave of success eventually crashes onto the ocean floor, leaving them spreadeagled on the sand amongst dying crustaceans? Shrug.
And another thing about a pack of cheeky boys who are really fucking rich and have no particular passion or life trajectory? They are SO BORING. Oh god they are SO BORING. There was one awful scene from the movie where the boys are hanging out in their tour van with some guy in his 40s who spends the whole scene nodding and grinning with glassy empty eyes, and you can tell he’s thinking “what is this? I hate this? They’re so boring? Why am I here?” and the answer is SIMON COWELL NEEDS HIS MONEH. That is the only reason for any of this.
The movie has no conflict.
At least the Katy Perry movie was all “will she get through her divorce?” and Bieber was all “will he pull off the biggest concert of his life”? These are the sorts of questions that make you sit forward in your seat, and if you’re me, cry a bit at the end when the emotion and the pop music soars to a very particular sublime height and the world suddenly seems made of a really beautiful invincible stained glass for like 2.5 minutes.
But this movie? It was like getting a dog to walk you through a country lane. “Is that a skink? I need to smell that. Those cows need to be told! LET ME RUN!”
Harry Styles is just awful.
Most of Harry Styles’ screen time involves one of his handlers being all “Harry, PLEASE, just stop messing around, PLEASE don’t throw that”, except for the one scene where he strolls out of his hotel room in nothing but undies and eye-fucks his hairdresser for an awkward few minutes before she trims his fringe back into place. Harry is always dressed like a private schoolboy who started drinking protein shakes and spent two weeks in India once, so now he’s more liberated than everyone else and wears scarves about 10 different ways.
As a lecturer in Introduction to Taylor Swift, I can totally see how Taylor and Harry Styles would have hit it off. They would have met at some party and locked eyes and been all “I have never ever met anybody so REAL” and that would have lasted them a good few weeks before the awfulness of rich 19 year olds being “real” descended like a dead weight onto their respective thoraxes.
Their poor choreographer.
You know those times you’re given a shift at work, or attached to an artistic project and it becomes clear that no one actually worked out how they planned to use you that day? And that the business or project has its own shit going on, and they’re not willing to hear what you have to say, and you end up just sitting in the corner glowering a bit, but also not too loudly, because they are still paying you? Well that’s how One Direction’s choreographer must feel every day.
Only one of the singers, Louis, does any of the dance moves at their concert; the others just half-heartedly gyrate and crouch a bit. Then Louis looks at them and realises he’s too invested in this dance lark, and he stops dancing too, and this is seriously the only tension in the whole movie.
It’s like one of those teeny movies where the teacher’s pet calls the teacher a bitch in front of the whole year group in order to impress the cool kids, and you see the teacher’s face crumble because she always thought THIS kid was different. That’s how the choreographer must feel about Louis.
At one stage they meet Martin Scorcese, who is taking his daughters to the show. He’s like “I’ve heard your stuff…I like it” and the boys are like “who the fuck is this guy?”
Zayn bought his own house because he wanted a room dedicated to graff art. I decided to hate the shit out of Zayn when this happened, and then he had to spoil it all by buying his mother a house and be all “this is why I do all of it, Ma. So I could look after you. Now shut the fuck up; don’t make me cry.” So now I love Zayn. It is what it is.
You Are Human.
I think I’ve finally worked out how I would explain to a teenage girl the reasons why it is a bad idea to want to marry your teen idol. I could mock up a power point and everything. It starts with “you are not a husk, and you are not a blank slate, you are a human, with her own needs and her own desires. You get angry and you get crazy. It’s part of being human. Because you are human. You are human, right? Yes, you are human.”
The movie ended with the band singing a song that I finally recognised, and Nickamc looked down and said “I feel defeated” and then Finig reassured him that “in spite of things like this, pockets of beauty still exist in the world” and then we left the cinema to the real One Direction fans: that gaggle of teenage girls heavy-breathing to the credits, and that one 60 year old guy by himself in a trench coat.