To mark the 20th anniversary of The Backstreet Boys, documentary filmmaker Stephen Kijak takes us through the trials and tribulations of this successful boy band, delving into the inner workings of what drove these teenagers to becoming so immensely popular. Preparing for a comeback tour (In a World Like This tour) running from 2013 – June 2015, we are shown the boys (or should we say men?) in an entirely different light. Realisation kicks in as it becomes apparent that the longevity of their career wasn’t just down to luck and CD sales; these guys worked damn hard in order to get that next hit spot on.
At first glance it seems this feature is focusing on just pleasing diehard fans, though once we’re able to look past the dance routines and high-pitched harmonies, we can see the read people within, with their own, emotive stories to tell. Kijak takes an honest, candid look into how these guys started out and where they have ended up. From having fun on school stages all the way through to having hundreds of sell out shows; this is what these boys dreamed off. The cogs of this group – five heart throbs of the 1990’s, A.J, Howie, Nick, Brian and Kevin. All of which allow both happy and devastating memories to creep onto the screen as we get a real insight into this band.
Each member lets their emotions run wild in front of the camera. Swearing, drinking, drug abuse inevitably leading to rehab; these guys were so dedicated to their music that Brian even postponed important heart surgery to be in the studio. We touch briefly on speculations regarding manager Lou Pearlman, the man who practically launched their career. Then just as we think this documentary is delving into the deepest darkest places, we are quickly picked up and placed back on a brightly lit stage. At times it does seem that the group have pushed for a sugar coated approach to their representation, and there are certain elements that feel as though they’re only included as a means of promoting the upcoming tour.
Nonetheless, it remains refreshing to see such a popular group represented in a natural light. The symbolism of the hike the band embarks on is carefully placed throughout this documentary, intercut with the hardships they faced as youngsters. Despite being an extensive exploration of this bands career, it’s hard to tell whether this is going to go down well as a standalone documentary. This is, at its core, strictly for avid fans. Though it’s fair to say that there are bound to be a few!