Chasing Happiness review: Documentary on Jonas Brothers offers superficial insights into their breakup and reunion
A prequel to the Jonas Brothers' upcoming album, 'Happiness Begins', Chasing Happiness oscillates between clueless and useless.
The Jonas Brothers' tale is one of extreme success followed by the inevitable and jarring spate of controversies ultimately leading to a break-up that wrought the nation with lament — or at least that is what their new documentary Chasing Happiness would have audiences believe. The chronicles of the boy-band comprising three siblings — Kevin, Joe and Nick — have definitely been something, but not as glorious as the documentary portrays it to be.
A prequel to the brothers' upcoming album, Happiness Begins, Chasing Happiness oscillates between clueless and useless.
As Nick, Kevin and Joe team up to 'reunite' after almost six years of solo (isolated) time, the film attempts to stitch their lives together — their complete arc from teenage sensations to high-profile performers in their own right. However, the attempt fails miserably.
One of the biggest myths that the documentary tries to bust is the fact that The Jonas Brothers (the band) was, in fact, not a result of Disney's multiple sagas with child actors (of the time) — what with your Lizzie McGuire-s and Hannah Montana-s. Kevin chips in to describe their difficult situation further, "We were doing two shows everyday at the time and had to drive back from Boston to New Jersey every time as the gas costs were cheaper and we could not afford to stay at hotels."
This is promptly followed by the family's reaction on finding out that Nick suffered from Type I diabetes when he was merely 13 years old (2005). The singer's will power and struggle notwithstanding, the documentary chooses to denote it in a near-death light, something which is sure to irk audiences greatly.
The brothers (both in scenes shot together and separately) drive home the fact that fame and success came as a result of their hard work, and not merely through luck. Just prior to becoming Disney sensations, we are told that the Jonas family underwent a period of financial and societal low — wherein, the family had to move from their hometown and shift to Little Falls, New Jersey. But before the viewers can feel the full impact of their hardships, we are told Kevin Jonas Sr had invested a mere $90,000 in the band and was thus under duress.
This may well have been a prime example of why Chasing Happiness fails to create any real impact. For the amount of footage that the brothers' struggle receives, audiences are yet to get unconvinced that they were indeed luckier than many beginners and were coming from a not-so-desperate background. One of the main portions in the documentary — the band's break-up, is dealt with vaguely, hardly giving any substantial reasoning or occurrence except for Nick's feeble, "I was creatively frustrated."
The break-up's aftermath, however, is treated in detail. Viewers witness Joe (in the present) breaking down while saying, "What hurt most was that it came from Nick and he is my best friend." Nick's rising ambition is coolly accepted by Kevin and Joe. While Joe plunges into uncharted territories and explores his chances at solo music, Kevin is happy settling down with his wife Danielle and children.
Nick is probably the only one who still holds on to his love for music at this time and shows considerable growth as a person. After what seems to be a rather botched-up self-reflective journey, all three brothers come back to understand each other's musical pulse once again.
Within the upheavals, the documentary introduces various voices other than just the Jonas family members. Phil McIntyre (their manager), John Lloyd Taylor (former music director), Brad Wavra (Live Nation touring) and the like come in to give their accounts of the siblings as well the band.
Much like their purpose of breaking up, their reunification remains completely unjustified in the film. None of them explain when and how they came up with this great idea. The audience is never given an explanation.
After having respective successes with 'Jealous' and 'Cake By The Ocean', Nick and Joe were kind of sorted. Kevin, on the other hand (we are told), wanted to become the best husband and father.
In an emotional conclusion, one of the brothers says, "It wasn't about the band, the money, the music. It was about, 'hey brothers, you want to do something awesome together?'."
Director John Lloyd Taylor does a commendable job of assorting old footage with the new ones in perfect chronology, just so that viewers can comprehend the sequence of events better. Grant MacDowell is deft at the editing table, often interspersing each iconic phase with a blank blackout screen so that the impact of scenes may last.
The Jonas brothers seem way more mature and sorted in the present days, a fact which shines through even in Chasing Happiness. The purpose of the documentary otherwise seems murky. As they gear up for their new album, Happiness Begins, one wonders why they were ever unhappy in the first place. They had everything going for them, minus a band breakup, the reasons of which remain deliberately unexplored.
Chasing Happiness premieres on Amazon Prime Video on 4 June.
Prince Harry will appear on camera and serve as executive producer on the multi-episode docu-series, titled Heart of Invictus.
The shows, a dark comedy and a drama, are likely to get into production later this year to early next year.
The Kitchen movie review: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elizabeth Moss' mob drama feels like a gang spoof gone wrong
The Kitchen's simplistic, black-and-white narrative ends up being a feeble attempt at a snazzy female mob film, with the shadow of far better works (The Godfather, anyone?) looming large over it.