First things first: I am a Directioner. Or am I a Directionator? Maybe I have One Direction infection?
Let’s just say that I’m a big enough 1D fan that I have spent the last couple weeks hyping myself up to watch their movie, One Direction: This is Us, by watching any promotional interviews that I could find, reblogging .gifs of the boys whenever they appeared on my Tumblr dashboard, and occasionally flipping through copies of tween magazines such as Tiger Beat and J14 (and probably receiving a few weird stares while doing it). However, as a relatively new fan of the British boy band, I went into the theatre last Friday with a pretty limited knowledge of 1D mythology — which member sings which part in their song Up All Night? What do the boys’ parents look like? Which songs were on the setlist for their 2013 Take Me Home tour? I had no idea.
Rest assured: the answers to all of these questions were provided in One Direction: This is Us (which I will henceforth refer to as 1D3D as it is much easier to type out but mostly because I strongly believe that that would’ve been a much better official title for the movie). 1D3D starts off with the origin story of One Direction: five young British boys who auditioned for The X-Factor as solo artists and ended up being combined into one boy band by X-Factor creator Simon Cowell — an extremely familiar tale for 1D fans that serves as more of a narrative launching pad for the film and a neat introduction for the rare uninitiated in the audience.
The rest of the movie follows the boys as they visit various major cities on their tour, documenting both their offstage and onstage shenanigans, as well as quieter moments in which the five of them reflect upon their journey and newfound fame (the five of them are surprisingly — and refreshingly — aware of how fleeting celebrity can be). In addition, 1D3D has fantastic concert footage from their show in London’s O2 arena interspersed throughout the film to satisfy fans who weren’t able to attend the real deal — and satisfying it is, as the 3-D coverage of the performances is so vivid and close-up that you would practically have to be a member of One Direction itself to get a better seat in any arena.
Now, most criticism aimed towards 1D3D seems to be focused on the fact that it’s more of a 92-minute love letter to One Direction than an in-depth, critical look at the band, as one might expect from director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me). Personally, I never expected This is Us to cover any controversial topics surrounding the band (such as the members’ love lives or accusations that One Direction is merely a manufactured product created by a faceless industry), what with the members still being relatively young (Harry is the youngest at 19 and Louis is the oldest at 21) and the intended demographic of the movie (and in extension, the band) being even younger.
Instead, 1D3D’s serious moments arrive in interviews with the boys’ parents regarding One Direction’s rapid and dizzying ascent into fame. As their mothers and fathers talk about how devastating it is having their sons leave home at such a young age and no longer being able to take care of them in their new, foreign lives in the spotlight, these scenes are This is Us at its most honest.
Still, One Direction: This is Us ultimately makes for quite a harmless and incredibly enjoyable movie. Directioners/Directionators will no doubt eat it up (I sure did) and while it might not necessarily convert any 1D haters out there, if you walk into the theatre with an open mind, you’ll probably end up with a newfound appreciation for the five adorable goofballs that make up One Direction.
Watch the theatrical trailer here: