Dave White
Believe Review

Dave's Rating:

2.5

He's this many.

Justin Bieber found his penis and this requires a new documentary. And you know he found his penis because this film makes sure to leave in footage of the pop star touching it on stage in front of thousands of young women (and also that one obsessed male fan who tattooted J.B.'s face on his thigh).

It's code, that junk-grabbing. It's an aggressive posture, one that his very young fans either won't understand or may react to negatively, it's reminiscent of both Michael Jackson's ascension to a cultural position where he did exactly as he pleased without consequence and hip-hop's badassery like almost nothing else. It's the gesture of someone determined for you to see him as a man instead of a boy. Then there's the wispy, kitten mustache he refuses to shave. And the tattoos.

As of this recorded moment, they encompass a full sleeve on one arm. And there are no fewer than three close-ups of that arm in the first moments of the film. Again, gestures, unsuprising ones, really, but they bookend a well-executed advertisement for Bieber The Artist. He's shown, repeatedly, thoroughly, writing songs, working them out in the studio with some of today's biggest producers, ostentatiously creating while also demonstrating his drumming, keyboard and guitar-playing skills, then having casts of those instruments made into giant wings that he wears on stage as an animated Biebertoon flies around the arena. And the girls all scream on cue, complete with analogous insert shots of young female fans losing their minds over the Beatles.

Then comes the "controversy." He swears (it's bleeped). He lunges violently at paparazzi (restrained by bodyguards). He pees into buckets in public (unseen and unmentioned). He says tone deaf stuff about Anne Frank (ditto). But he does allow himself to be quoted on camera -- and he's one of the producers so he could have had this excised or asked for another take -- saying, "If I'm not happy [with the details of my own work]… then I'm not happy." Dude. Listen to yourself.

But so what? As post-adolescent boneheadedness, it's all fingerling potatoes, nothing a million male college freshmen haven't already done, minus the paparazzi and buckets of money. If he acts the fool and speeds around in a ridiculous car from time to time, it weighs very little on the bad celebrity behavior scale, a system of measurment so blown by the likes of Charlie Sheen that even Tila Tequila looks normal by contrast. And Bieber makes sure to balance the bad-boy-adjacent antics with a nearly post-cynical segment in which he's shown tenderly caring for a terminally ill six-year-old girl.

If there's conflict here, it's within the aspiring grown-ass man himself. He wants to be good and bad. He wants that mustache to hurry up. He wants more ink. But most of all he wants to be taken seriously, triumphant over all criticism and boy-lesbian jokes, as the maker of catchy songs for his devoted fans to swoon over as they learn the ABCs of consumerist fandom. And as an impeccably calibrated infomercial for that goal, this completely unnecessary film almost successfully positions him as an underdog fighting that good fight.

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