Monday, January 15, 2007

Movie Review: Back Street Stories 2 ½ Stars

“To be a member of the Backstreet Boys, you need to be able to do backflips and do splits in mid-air. It’s incredibly physical. Whereas to be in Oasis, all you have to do is be able to stand still.”
Pat Reid, British Music “Journalist”

Comparing gymnastics to musicianship is like comparing apples to oranges: they’re both fruits, but Liam and Ian Gallagher taste good in a pie served a la mode with a slice of cheddar cheese, while The Backstreet Boys, like oranges, are a garnish from Florida. In Back Street Stories, Pat Reid does make a roundabout point that The Backstreet Boys are no great shakes as pop smiths, but the five affable young men are fabulous showmen -- singing, dancing, backflipping entertainers.

Unfortunately, in watching Back Street Stories, the feeling is one of watching an elaborate audition for a future VH1 Behind The Music episode. The European production values (the dubbing is amateurish) lend to the exploitative nature of this unauthorized documentary culled from interviews with the Boys on the Swedish and British legs of early BSB tours. Back Street Stories also contains of home video footage by an unseen, unnamed shooter (a mercenary friend or family member cashing in?) showing the youngsters traveling from Florida to NYC for their big break.

The Boys themselves, likeable and sincere in their efforts to write and perform quality songs, seem insulated from the reality of their insignificance in a playing field littered by a legacy of boy bands and teen idols who rose and fell before them. Partly because of their own youthful naivete and mostly because of protective families and management, the fickleness of popular culture is not even a concern.

As much as comparisons to the Beatles and the Motown groups of the ‘60s increase the cringe factor exponentially throughout, the truth remains: the Boys are genuinely endearing. They are nothing more than the dorks from high school who sang in the chorus and dressed a little odd. But thanks to the magical ingredients of hard work and blind luck, they made it. Now, the same girls that would have avoided them like the plague in high school (and are currently avoiding chorus geeks at their own high schools) flock to scream in shameless adulation their cries of undying love for the Boys.

Back Street Stories is for those girls. The hardcore fans that rabidly collect all things Backstreet just to see how adorably ginchy Nick looks in this one. But even they may be disappointed in this outing. No BSB songs or live performances are included.

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