News Column

1D feature offers as much footage of fans as of the band

August 30, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 30--It's not easy being a teen idol, but the lads in One Direction sure make it look like a nonstop lark.

And that's the reason One Direction: This Is Us, a splashy feature-length video valentine to the British boy band, plays so smashingly: the easy charm and unflagging affability of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne.

The cameras of director Morgan Spurlock follow every waking moment of the boys' lives -- from the dizzy whirl of their endless world tour to brief visits to their hometowns, where Harry stops by a bakery where he used to work and Louis walks the aisles of a Toys R Us at which he once toiled.

Of course, now every store at the mall has a whole section devoted to 1D merchandise, because this is the band that makes the girls SCREAM. At the moment. And This Is Us captures that hormonal mania vividly.

It's the first concert film that has as much footage of the audience as it does of the band. Whether in New York, Mexico City, or Tokyo, the fans are an indispensable part of the 1D phenomenon. Neither the group's songs nor their rather nonchalant stage presence can explain the adulation they provoke.

The fact is that they are as criminally cute as a basketful of puppies. This Is Us manages to frame that boyish appeal astutely, roping in home movies, family photos, and archival footage (although, in this case, archival means anything from last year).

The band is made up of former contestants from the British version of The X Factor, brought together by the talent show's creator, Simon Cowell. And the anything-but-modest impresario takes lots of the credit and grabs lots of facetime in the film.

Above all, this is a masterpiece of editing. It uses all the standard elements of pop star tributes, but assembles them really smartly and energetically.

If This Is Us has a problem, it's that it goes on a little too long, and Spurlock has trouble finding his conclusion. But if you're a fan, you don't ever want it to end. This is a cinematic all-you-can eat sundae.

The film will inspire a nasty sense of jealousy in older viewers, resentful that New Kids on the Block, 'N Sync and the like didn't have this sort of mirrored luxury vehicle available to them.

One Direction: This Is Us **--(out of 4 stars)

Directed by Morgan Spurlock. With Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson. Distributed by TriStar Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.

Parent's guide: PG

Playing at: area theaters

Contact David Hiltbrand at dhiltbrand@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_TV. Read his blog at www.inquirer.com/daveondemand.

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(c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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