“I lost a bet.” is the excuse I give to the guy behind the counter. He doesn’t care but at least makes the effort at entertaining the conversation of this weirdo, this grown ass man who wants to watch One Direction: This Is Us at 11.50 on a Saturday morning. He laughs and offers me 3D glasses. I take them, in for a penny in for a pound and all that. I feel very stupid now. This seemed like a funny idea weeks ago. But I’ve put it off too many times now. The money has been paid. I’m almost certain that this isn't going to kill me or anything. Maybe a little vomit though.
Two old ladies, a smattering of mothers with their preteen daughters and me. I hope they don’t call the guards. I already look like a mugshot photo. How long is this film anyway? I should have checked before I left. The ads start but there’s no picture, only sound. My brief hope of a reprieve is dashed however, as the picture is restored right at the end of the trailer for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I mean, there was nothing physically stopping me from just getting up and leaving but my word is my bond goddamit.
The film starts. We’re introduced to five moppets with ice cream haircuts. I’m pretty sure there’s five, but there could be four, some of them just kind of blend together. They’re singing and dancing around a stage and sometimes it goes into slow motion, which is amusing. Maybe this was directed by Visionary Director Zack Snyder. As credits jump right out of the screen at me, I see this is actually directed by Morgan Spurlock. The Super Size Me guy. Perhaps listening to these guys for months is his second attempt to see what happens when you consist on nothing put empty calories. What is pop music after all, but the Big Mac of the music world? Maybe he just wanted to make a trillion dollars. Could be that.
A scientist is explaining that fangirls love One Direction so much because they release dopamine into the brain. He’s got a little plastic brain to show us. What the fuck is happening? We’re told the group’s backstory, about how they were runners up on the X-Factor but the darn kids and their Twitters kept them in the limelight. I didn’t know they were on that show. Or maybe I did but my brain decided it wasn’t worth memorising. I don’t mean that in a snobbish way, my brain isn’t the best at making those decisions. I can’t remember family member’s birthdays or where my friends live but I’m be a drooling 90 year old and still remember what a damn Magmar is. Magmar has hair that looks like he could be in One Direction. A map of the world is shown gradually being filled with a One Direction logo, like some kind of propaganda video about the Red Menace. I didn’t realise these lads had convinced bopping twelve year old girls to annex Cambodia but that is what this movie is telling me. I need to keep up with current events more. Another song from the concert. It’s about liking a girl. So was the last one.
The boys and Simon Cowell keep peddling the company line in a series of talking heads. Everything is wonderful, their fans are the greatest ever etc. I don’t blame them for saying this, what the hell else are they going to say. This whole endeavour is just A Hard Day’s Night for 2013. They seem like nice, simple boys. The musical journalists interviewed on the other hand, these hacks saying that One Direction succeeded because of the ‘rock edge’ to their ‘sound’, those pigs can go die in a fire. Simon Cowell is trying to sell me something, he’s supposed to lie. These journalists should know better. Sizzle like bacon. My mind is slipping. With the origin story out of the way the entire rest of the movie is just ‘the boys fly to a city. They sing a song. They fly to another city’. I lose track of how long I’ve been sitting here. They do a show in Madison Square Garden. Martin Scorcese meets One Direction. I’m definitely dreaming now. Does he think he can use their skinny teen boy bodies for a Taxi Driver remake? Chris Rock praised One Direction. If Magmar shows up and starts singing a song about how pretty a girl is I’ll know for sure reality has collapsed.
Another city. Another song. It’s about a girl. They feel positive about her. Noticing a pattern now. There are other aspects to the human experience lads. I’m not asking you to sing about Maxwell’s Silver Hammer or the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins but do you not even have a waahpoormebreakupsong? Mix it up, dickheads. The repetitive nature of This Is Us is depleting my goodwill to these young men. The opposite of dopamine flows through my brainspace. Hateamine. Bitterdorkamine. Fuck these assholes, they're just haircuts with noise coming out of them. During the many crowd shots of their concert, a search for anyone like me, some eegit who thought it would be amusing to attend their show ‘ironically’ and is regretting it. There is no me there. Only a sea of glowsticks and crying girls. One Direction: This Is Making Luke Feel Weird.
The boys visit home. There’s the slightest crack in the façade of everything being awesome forevertime always in these scenes, but don’t worry, we’ll be back to love songs soon enough I’m sure. The mother of one of them remarks that this is the first time he’s been home since he went to audition. A father laments that he’s lost years of bonding with his son. The movie flirts with the idea of being interesting for about 40 seconds, willing to depict more than one possible emotion, but it skips past this stuff to more shots of the boys with their shirts off. Spurlock knows his audience. You can’t make gifs on Tumblr out of a depressed father. At least you shouldn’t. By the by, the many scenes of the One Direction members shirtless show that they all have tattoos (or at least the majority of them do, as I said they’re blending together), these tattoos run a whole half of the spectrum from merely average to resembling the doodles of a 13 year old’s science copy. One of them speaks to his grandmother. Her responses are subtitled. Is English too complicated a language for the target audience?
So much screaming. The constant stream of screaming fans is giving me a headache. So much screaming. I take it down in my notes on my phone, notes I read back after the film is over. They make me sound like a serial killer. Here is a sample: “Famous not substance but niceis 2 famous piiru ohgodcomedy.” I don’t remember what piiru is supposed to mean. I was typing without looking at the phone. I had to struggle to make sense of the rest of it, but I’m pretty sure I was complaining about a moment where one of the group’s members complains about the cost of fame and it’s impact on his romantic life. He only meets girls who like him because he’s ‘famous’. There’s no substance to that he says. He’d rather be liked for being ‘nice’ or ‘funny’. Because ‘nice’ is a much deeper quality than ‘famous’. What a goon. I should just leave but I’m sure it’s nearly over. I think that at least three times. No structure. Someone help me. Piiru.
There’s a sequence where one of them dresses up as a security guard before a show and rants to fans about how the group can’t sing or dance and aren’t that good. I know it’s intended to be comical but have decided it’s a desperate plea for help. Not sure why the sequence is in the film. Just padding. In fact, apart from the first ten minutes and the concerty bits, it’s pretty much all padding. They went on a camping trip earlier. They made smores and wondered what they would do when they’re not famous anymore. At least they’re realistic. When the wave rolls back they'll be prepared. I hate them less now. They have no arc or growth during this film but I, the audience member, do. Very post-modern.
The climatic performance shown from their world tour is in Mexico City. It feels like they visited every major city in the world. But it’s finally over. So final thoughts. Brace yourself. I wouldn’t watch again. I could have done with some hint at conflict, a little push and shove session before tears and apologies. Life is tough on the road and all that. No sign of that in the film. They were a bit grumpy at having to get up early at one point. They’re too lacking in personality to have real conflict I feel. They just weren’t programmed that way. Every time they start to get worked up their brain searches for the right emotion, but their eyes just glaze over and they say FILE NOT FOUND and go back to singing about how the girl is just so pretty why doesn’t she see it? Unless they want to start experimenting with drugs and go off the rails a bit I wouldn’t advise One Direction to make another film. They’re too boring. I want a Kanye West 3D concert film. It would be like a modern day Caligula. He’d have these jabronies heads on pikes. Make it happen Kanye. Need headache tablet. So much screaming. Should delete notes. Not serial killer. Piiru?