“Never Say Never” makes a good case for teen heartthrob Bieber 

Do you have a weakness for windswept bowl cuts? Like your pinup boys safe, clean-cut and Canadian? Are you a 14-year-old girl with a pulse? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, you might just have a case of Bieber Fever.

Formerly quarantined to concert halls, the Internet and the streets of Stratford, Ontario, where the young pop star once wowed passers-by with acoustic renditions of his favorite songs, the Justin Bieber contagion has spread to the screen, where he bares all (figuratively, ladies) in Jon Chu’s 3-D documentary “Never Say Never.”

Whether you are among the initiated or hopelessly oblivious to the madness gripping millions of fans — roughly 400 of whom crowded into the Metreon on Wednesday to scream, dance and wave their glow sticks furiously in celebration of Bieber’s greatness — it is easy to appreciate Chu’s feature-length take on a prodigy’s rise to the top.

For anyone who doubts Bieber’s credentials, “Never” should put your skepticism to rest. Far from a manufactured product of the Auto-Tune generation, Bieber, 16, took to the drums as a child and is now an accomplished percussionist, trumpeter, guitarist and pianist. And, in case you missed it, the boy can sing.

“Never” traces his journey from Stratford, where he once placed second in a rising-star contest, to New York’s Madison Square Garden, an arena of near-mythic status that will be lost on much of the movie’s target audience. The movie is a slick, handsome product — the 3-D really invigorates the live footage — and if Bieber’s authorized biography seems incomplete, well, that is why they make sequels.

Chu seems more interested in chronicling the Web-assisted creation of a post-pubescent superstar than in probing Bieber’s personality, but no matter. If the shrieking at Wednesday’s screening is any indication, “Never” will be received by fans as an achievement in the league of sliced bread.

Not so Miley Cyrus, Bieber’s partner in an onstage duet and an unwelcome distraction to those who have eyes only for him. “Put on some clothes!” came the cry.


Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Three stars

Starring: Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Usher Raymond, Ludacris, Jaden Smith
Directed by Jon Chu
Rated G
Running time 1 hour 45 minutes

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