Director: Stephen Kijak
Cast: Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean, Kevin Scott Richardson
Running Time: 105 minutes
Synopsis: A documentary looking back over the last 20 years of one of America’s biggest boybands.
Must resist quoting obvious lyrics. It seems that every band/group and their mothers have a documentary focused on them, and the clean cut, wholesome world of boybands doesn’t exactly scream for the same attention as the darker, drug fuelled stories of rock and roll. But that’s a simplification that is obviously not merited. In truth, the film and tale of the Backstreet Boys is even more engaging due to the front they had to put up. Not only that, but BACKSTREET BOYS: SHOW ‘EM WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF, is a very honest and fully realised piece.
20 years ago The Backstreet Boys began their rise from humble beginnings to international stardom. It was a time when grunge and hip hop dominated the airwaves in America, so the group had to come to Europe during the boyband boom in order to make a dent. With so much early footage documenting their initial trials, the film always feels complete, with anecdotes backed up by evidence. We see the group do a tour of high schools with both successful and awkward results, as well as changes in the line0up which resurface hints of jealousy 20 years on.
What’s spectacular about Kijak’s film, is that he grasps each member as an individual character in both the past and present. He clearly depicts and captures character development on all fronts. Nick is the young one enjoying the ride, although later scenes show how he starts to become a more driven force. In one brilliant scene he absolutely explodes and unleashes a tirade of pent up grievances towards Brian. Speaking of Brian, the once velvet voiced lead must contend with medical issues that have affected his vocals. This ties in to Howie’s story, as the once lead singer pushed to the back by Brian’s arrival, who must now take on greater responsibility. Meanwhile A.J. bares all concerning his addictions, and Kevin takes on the role of the older and more wise member.
Along with these arcs, the documentary takes each member back to their hometowns and where it all began, revealing stories from their past as both joy and pain. It never seems attention grabbing or misplaced, and does genuinely feel as though it all comes from the heart. There’s also a darker mystery element surrounding their manager Lou ( which many fans will already be aware of), and the whole time we’re given a glimpse inside the world of manufactured boybands, and a fierce battle to stay relevant.
Of course, there’s also the incredible back catalogue of songs which surprisingly transcend their cheesy 90s beginnings and still sound incredible. Yes, The Call is quite possibly the greatest song ever written, recorded, and performed, but I’m not biased at all. BACKSTREET BOYS: SHOW ‘EM WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF is an enlightening, inspiring, fascinating look at a group that have grown up, but have stayed true to their roots. They have taken control of their brand, despite being manufactured originally. The honesty of the film means fans and non-fans alike will love seeing the story unfold. When it comes to documentaries, I guess you could say we want it this way, that The Backstreet Boys have got it going on, that they are larger than life, and that Backstreet’s back.
[usr=4] BACKSTREET BOYS: SHOW ‘EM WHAT YOU’RE MADE OF screens in cinemas on 26th February at 7:00pm, and is followed by a live performance of the group via satellite.