‘What do you do when you’re a full grown man in a boy band?’ – Brian Littrell
You’d never know it from my otherwise poised and mature 32 year old exterior (ahem) but I was and forever will be the BIGGEST Backstreet Boys fan on the planet (I’m sure many other fans will tell you that they are, but they would be lying). However when I found out last year that they were doing a movie (akin to recent docu-movies from Katy Perry and One Direction) my initial reaction was – why do they continue to flog this dead horse to death, why don’t they just do their obligatory tour every 3 or so years and collect their paychecks? Much as I am massively found of them and the place they’ve had in my life for nearly 17 years, I wasn’t really sure what place have in the music or movie scene in 2015.
As I learnt more about the film and momentum about it was building on social media, I watched the first trailer almost cringing from the other side of the computer screen out of potential embarrassment for them. Thank god then that the trailer completely bulldozed over any reservations I had. I was SO excited about the film coming out, I was utterly fangirling, I was 14 again.
Since it was released on 31st January 2015 and I duly downloaded it, I’ve watched it twice; once with the hubby and once spread over a few days at the gym so I could really concentrate on it. It was filmed over a 2 year period from recording their last album ‘In A World Like This’ (an album, incidentally I’ve never been mad keen on – apart from the song Feel Like Home which is amazeballs!) in London and embarking on a supporting world-wide tour. All this is intercut with old footage from back in the early days, chronicling their early success in Europe (a good few years before the US *smugface*) and their eventual world boy band domination in the late 90’s/early 00’s. It also touches on the brief solo careers, alcohol, drug, weight problems, Kevin leaving and coming back again and a few other surprises that even as a hardcore fan, I never knew.
I loved this film from start to end, but I was always going to love it, I’m a fan. If you’re not you probably will find them quite whiny and irritating. Fan or not I do believe it’s an interesting music documentary. Some of it’s a little self-indulgent; visiting each others home towns and reminiscing about their childhoods is a quite tawdry, but sweet non the less. For anyone interested in the inner workings of the pop music business, the story of their former manager Lou Pearlman swindling them out of loads of money through watertight contracts is fascinating, as was his decision to create another band (N Sync) in their image and pit them against each other as direct competition – he does not come across well! It’s also made me want to give their most recent album another listen as the songs from it are well placed in the film along side all of their old classics, and sound mush better than i remember being when it first came out!
One thing I really did like about the film is how honest it is, especially Brian talking about his diagnosis of vocal chord dysphonia, which is something that he’s obviously still struggling to come to terms with. This also comes apparent later in the film when he and Nick get into a heated cuss fest in the middle of a meeting (sweet, God-fearing Brian dropping f-bombs is probably the most shocking thing in the whole movie!) about Brian’s inability to sing the way he used to and fears that might jeopardise the tour . The cynic in me did wonder whether Nick throwing a tantrum was set up for the sake of the cameras and to create some drama in the otherwise easygoing, friendly dynamic of the group.
So ok, it’s not going to win any Oscars, and if you’re looking for something on par with Some Kind of Monster, this ain’t it, they’re just not that kind of band. I can’t see why anyone who wasn’t a fan of the group would really be interested in anything they have to say 20 years on but if you are or ever were a fan, or love a good story of 90’s pop, this will be right up your street (see what I did there?!)