One Direction: This Is Us

One Direction: This Is Us


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

When it comes to prefab pop groups, One Direction are top of the heap. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were thrown together on The X Factor by Simon Cowell and, despite coming third, have gone on to become a global sensation, selling more than 19 million singles and 10 million albums courtesy of their brand of you're-beautiful girl-friendly lyrics and tousled charm.

Here Super Size Me documentarian Moran Spurlock - who has never been one to shy away from a gimmick - takes on the task of capturing the band as they visit the US, Mexico, Japan and Europe as part of their world tour, while also showing them enjoying off-stage banter or talking direct to camera about their achievements. The end result, rather like Styles' improbably bouffant quiff, may look unruly on the surface but it is no doubt the result of a considerable amount of grooming and teasing from Cowell and his ilk to ensure that the boys never sully their brand.

Copy picture

This Is Us has been made squarely with the fans - and their parental units - in mind. By way of comfort to mums who may be worried about their daughter's hysterical screaming at the mere mention of 1D action there's even a cod-science bit, involving an Einstein-esque 'expert' brandishing a brain, muttering about endorphins and declaring: "The girls are not crazy, they are just excited."

This may be true, but when you see the lads holed up in an Amsterdam sports store waiting for rescue after being mobbed when a fan spots them on the street, you have to wonder if Stockholm syndrome may be partially responsible for their constant declarations that their fans are the best in the world.

After a whistlestop tour of how they got where they are today - with the look on Cowell's face as he talks about their success putting you in mind of a cat with its paw on the tail of a mouse - we get to spend some time with the boys. Fans of any sort look for intimacy from documentaries of their idols, those hints of what lies behind the glitter. There are whispers of that here, particularly when Spurlock dares to show them horsing around, and the impression is that they genuinely do care about delivering for their fans - manufactured act or not.

Moments with their parents bring the strongest emotions, as one mum buys a standee of her son so she can kiss it good night and another walks into the house that hers has just bought her. Most poignant, perhaps is the observation of one of the dads that he has missed out on the taking your teenage son out for a pint aspect of his offspring's coming of age, because he's off galivanting round the world.

Spurlock is subdued, with the 3D mostly confined to the concert footage, and a looser style of editing would make this more interesting for the fans - there is simply not enough of the group chatting, making you wonder, what were they afraid we would see? But while this documentary may be as carefully constructed as the band, no amount of stage management can stop genuine emotions seeping through, and you're likely to find your cynicism crumbling in the face of the lads' sheer energy and down-to-earth charm.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2013
Share this with others on...
Documentary about the X Factor boys who made it big.
Amazon link

Director: Morgan Spurlock

Starring: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Jon Shone, Dan Richards, Sandy Beales, Josh Devine

Year: 2013

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


Search database: