Last week, when we were totally researching for work and not wasting time as the clock wound down at all, we came across this utterly hilarious Jezebel article about what happens when two grown people watch the One Direction: This Is Us movie with a room full of screaming fans.
As we read on (again, in the name of research), we became jealous of their funnies and also wanted in on the One Direction party. Unfortunately, we aren't nearly as brave as they are, and the idea of tween riots in a theater over Harry, Niall, Zayn, Liam, and Louis made us want to run to our safe and happy places.
We still opted to check out this boy-band movie, but rather than risk dying in a stampede of pink and glitter, we opted to go at a time that we presumed would be their bedtime: 9:20 p.m. Genius, right? Not exactly.
What we didn't anticipate is just how creepy we'd look walking in to a late showing of One Direction: This Is Us with no children. Our plan, brilliant in theory, had us looking like we should be carrying a sack of candy and sporting creepster 'staches while trying our damndest not to look suspicious. Here's what happened.
Angelica: Gee, I'm glad we got here at 8:45 p.m. just in case, it's totally not awkward when the usher comes in to take attendance in the theater, and we're the only fuckers in here. Two grown-ass people, front and center, in a movie about a boy band. We don't look suspicious at all.
What happened to the days of movie trivia? I mean, it's great that there are ads for allergists and all now, but I'm guessing the target audience of this movie isn't quite in that demographic.There are not enough Candy Crush levels in the world to make this wait any shorter. The lights need to go down now. There aren't even other people in this theatre, and I can still feel eyes burning in the back of my neck.
Chris: The first thing I wrote in my notebook after the opening credits of started spooling was, "What am I doing here?" When it was over an hour and a half later (if that), I thought, "Well, that wasn't bad at all."
Notwithstanding its negligible musical merit, I found This Is Us to be a fascinating look at the many well-oiled parts of pop-entertainment machinery required to mount a production on the scale of One Direction -- chief among them the chemistry of five lads from Nowheresville, UK and Hicktown, Ireland -- by a filmmaker who is turning out to be an A-list muse of mass-consumption culture.
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More or less, director Morgan Spurlock does the same thing with disposable pop songs here that he did with hamburgers in his 2004 fast-food expose Super Size Me, only without the accusatory tone. (Team One Direction very much had say-so over the final cut of This Is Us, as outlined in a recent New York Times article.)
Angelica: Yay! The first boy band member is on the screen. What? These kids have tattoos, and I'm pretty sure one is a butterfly across a chest. Don't know who; they're still all interchangeable. I feel like there should be young girls singing along with these songs. Sorry, chicas, but I just can't represent. I want to, but I don't know what the hell these songs are. I am surprised they can sing though.
Seriously already wishing this shit was over. Oh my God. We made the right decision about the time choice, even if we look like we should be driving an old Econovan. If teenage girls are anything like the ones depicted on this screen, they are feral animals, complete with growling and foaming at the mouth.
Chris: The film effectively captures the hamster-wheel nature of being in a boy band whose megasuccess was hardly preordained, and made that much more impressive by the fact that One Direction didn't even win the TV-talent show that originally brought them together. They finished third in the 2010 season of The X-Factor, but gained the sponsorship of show-creator Simon Cowell, who signed the boys to the label he happens to own. Social media did the rest, and within a days, One Direction was one of the biggest bands in the world. Still is.
This Is Us, then, follows the five lads as they tour their conquered territories, interspersing largely ho-hum concert scenes from three continents between airport check-ins, sleepy-eyed hotel rooms, stolen bouts of horseplay or English football in the bowels of various sports arenas, and one somewhat awkward moment with some Harajuku girls in Japan.
In maybe the funniest bit of the movie, one of the boys disguises himself as venue security in London and starts talking smack about One Direction -- he asks one fan why she likes the group, and she says "they're perfect"; "they're crap," he replies. In France, the fauxhawked one says, "I'm not down for [eating] snails."
Angelica: British accents definitely make life better. Holy wow. Oh my dear, that was a terrible Plain White T's cover.God damn it.They're becoming endearing, with their antics and giggling. They hid in a trash can, for fuck's sake! No, I refuse to give in. I hear 1D fans jump from sanity to screeching in a millisecond.
I feel like I should definitely love something as much as these girls love 1D, but what? I'm old and jaded. I could do without the concert bits. What did that guy just say? No, honey. They are not "rock influenced." You're out of your mind. I'm glad jean jackets have made a comeback, though. Seriously.
It's fucking freezing in here. Maybe they're trying to freeze us out because we look that creepy. We're still the only ones here.
Chris: About the only time the band gets to rest, it seems, is when they're performing onstage. One Direction is fond of sitting down, and joke early on that they want to be "the boy band that hates dancing." (How much they're joking is debatable, judging by the remainder of the running time.)
One place the film lingers on for only a moment, tellingly, is the recording studio. Sorry, but the talking-head from The Guardian explaining that what sets One Direction apart from other boy bands is their "rock edge" should be relieved of his critical duties immediately.
More boy-band banter on the next page.
Angelica: They are pulling out all the stops, bringing on the boys' mums, who happen to be crying and talking about their sons. Also, was that really Martin Scorsese at a 1D show? And Chris Rock? I'm impressed. Man, Japanese security guards appear to be so polite. I don't know how anyone could hold back throngs of screaming fans without being annoyed, but they don't appear to be.
I've officially chuckled at all of their antics, and now they're busting out a cover of Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag," and I'm tempted to sing along. I wonder how many of the girls screaming the lyrics at that concert in England actually know who Iron Maiden is, though.
Chris: Later on in the film, it does allow the Directioners a (very) little time to visit their generally close-knit families -- one of them is on the phone with his mom as she's walking into the house he just bought her, which you can't help but love - go on holiday (a funny fishing trip), and even spare the stray thought about What It All Means, though of course not very much.
"We're just normal 19/20/21-year-olds," one of them says towards the end. "Our jobs just happen to be abnormal."
Angelica: I can't even hate-watch this. Man, I want to hate them so bad on pure principle, but they're so stinking cute. I hate myself right now. I could reaaaaaallly do without the concert bits, though I don't know why it makes me giggle uncomfortably when they cut to the girls crying while singing Wheatus. It's freakin' Wheatus, y'all. Seriously.
I think Chris is taking real notes. Overachiever. Thank God we found a showing that wasn't in 3D. I don't think I could handle all the cuteness. It's in 1D. (Heh.)
Chris: That's about the (super) size of it. Like it or not, This is Us' cinematic indoctrination really works -- if only because the boy-band superstructure built up around One Direction won't let it fail. I saw very little artistry in this film (though it is certainly well-made), but am thoroughly convinced that Niall, Louis, Harry, Liam and Zayn are very nice, hard-working, raffish young men. Don't be at all surprised to see them at Reliant Stadium in 2014.
Angelica: And it just ended, out of nowhere. What? That's some Benjamin Buttons shit! What happened to the moms? Did Liam's mom take the cardboard cutout out of his room that kept scaring him?! Did Louis' gram ever make it to a show? She said she would, and that she'd buy earplugs for it! And did Zayn get to ever see the house he bought for his mom? I totally feel slighted.
There are so many questions left. This is depressing. I refuse to Google them, though. I don't need the feds knocking on my door. I hope no one sees us exit this place. We're probably on so many lists right now. We just have to make it to the car without being arrested. The car is the safe zone.
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