By Ryan Wallace
With hoards of fans world-wide and their 2013 international stadium tour selling out in mere hours, British boy band One Direction has taken the world by storm with an unprecedented career that was literally created and sustained by fan-power. Since their inception on the hit British television show “The X Factor” in 2010, the five boys (Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik) have made it clear that they were a force to be reckoned with. And now with an opening weekend that topped box offices on both sides of the Atlantic, the boys have added movie stars to their list of talents as well.
But that’s not entirely the point of the movie. In what appears to be an unscripted account of their journey to the top, the film “This Is Us” gives viewers a behind-the-scenes view of the boys’ careers. Grueling hours, sleepless nights and a fanbase that knows literally everything about them (seriously they know their bloodtypes and have hacked into security systems), the film is admittedly an homage to the fans that have given them their whirlwind success.
Searching the archives of tumblr and YouTube, one can instantly see why they have garnished so much mass appeal—they’re five normal boys, with particularly abnormal singing voices. Originally auditioning for “The X Factor” in the hopes of winning solo careers, the boys were put together by series creator Simon Cowell, in a final attempt at keeping them in the competition. Instantly they created buzz in the UK, and in spite of not winning, their loyal fans paved a way for the group.
The film follows the five boys on their 2013 “Take Me Home” tour all across the world. Taking a eurotrip across the continent, then venturing to Japan, Ghana, Mexico and finally the US, “This Is Us” gave a unique perspective on the boys, the fandom and the life of superstars—or something like that. Stating it throughout the movie, their position as celebrities is questioned by the boys who don’t necessarily like being labeled “famous”. Taking their real-life personalities and bringing them to the stage, the boys have ironically garnered unprecedented celebrity status from being normal, talented boys with one particular exception—they cannot dance.
Reluctantly placed into the category of “Boy Bands”, in spite of their transformation into men over the course of the last three years, One Direction has attempted to redefine the image of a boyband to a generation that vaguely remembers their predecessors of the 90’s. Ditching the matching outfits and choreographed routines, the boys have decided to make their career about the things that matter—talent and personalities. Their vocalization and harmonies are uncanny, and their dancing verges on the edge of ridiculous, but together it’s One Direction. And the best part about it, is that they are completely aware that they’re breaking boundaries, but still can’t believe their success.
There are moments of struggle, clarity, embarrassment and, of course, shenanigans. A group of young men, some of which are still teenagers, prove that they are a product of their environment. Proper and sweet, with just the right amount of edge to send fans screaming, the boys are quite a handful behind-the-scenes. Reminiscent of Benny Hill chase scenes, the footage of crew security and tour managers trying to corral the boys who often steal golf-carts, forklifts and take off unsuspectingly, denotes them quite perfectly. But there are also serious notes to the film as well.
From the gripping family stories to their struggle with finding themselves as artists and as individuals whilst in the limelight, the viewer will get a sense of who the boys are as individuals by the end of the film. And perhaps it’s the random acts of kindness, which often leave Disney cartoons the heroes of the film, that will have you in tears by the end.
If you haven’t become a fan of One Direction by now, you may be behind the curve, but you aren’t too late. This film secures the fans’ hearts by not only appealing to the human aspect, but also illustrating their vast talent. If you’ve wanted to see them live, but weren’t able to procure one of the select tickets, then now is your opportunity. Combining a concert, a journey and five spectacular individuals, “This Is Us” is the perfect bittersweet end to the summer. And with talent that rivals some of the best rock/pop bands around, it’s a no-brainer why the film should top box-offices again this weekend!
Photos Courtesy of Sony Pictures
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