Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of is in cinemas nationwide for one night only on 26th February, followed by a special performance by the band broadcast live by satellite. For info: www.backstreetboys.com/international
Lively and personal but never quite breaking the surface, this documentary about the boy band phenomenon traces both their 20-year anniversary project as well as their journey to the top and back. It's packed with terrific material that fans will love, and it explores some darker sides of the bandmates' lives, but it skims over any difficult aspects of their experience together. Still, they are energetic and ready for the challenge of taking the world by storm all over again.
To prepare for their 20th anniversary tour in 2013, Backstreet Boys A.J. McLean, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter travel to London to record a new album outside the limelight. Back in America, they also revisit their hometowns in Florida and Kentucky, meeting the teachers who inspired them, family members and old friends. But preparing to tour is a much more challenging prospect, as they try to get fit enough to do the old dance routines. And Brian is having a mental struggle that's affecting both his voice and his physicality. This brings up old tensions between them, even as they know that they can never perform without all five of them on stage.
Interspersed with these scenes, filmmaker Stephen Kijak traces the band's formation in 1993 Orlando by billionaire Lou Pearlman, who they later sued for embezzlement (he ended up in prison). They also discuss the shift in their career when they started working with iconic producer Max Martin in Stockholm, becoming celebrities in Europe long before they broke into the American charts. And once they hit the big time, the trappings of success brought the usual problems, mainly due to excessive drugs and alcohol. But they have remained best friends, bandmates and business partners, the closest thing they've had to a family. They were aged 13 to 21 when this started.
The filmmakers work to remain positive, so even when they include a dark clash or emotional moment, it's spun into something upbeat with a clever edit. In other words, the film feels more than a little like a public relations project. This won't bother the fans at all, since they'll love all the new interviews and never-seen performance and backstage footage. More discerning viewers will notice that the filmmakers are sidestepping the more serious issues of addiction, rivalries and most notably their relationships outside the band. But this is a remarkable depiction of five men who have tenaciously stuck together over two decades. And even if the film never touches on what they might do next, it's a telling look at where they've been and who they are now.
Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of Trailer
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Facts and Figures
Run time: 101 mins
In Theaters: Friday 30th January 2015
Distributed by: Gravitas Ventures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 8.1 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Stephen Kijak