Phil's Quick Capsule Review
I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2019): Review by Motion Picture Maniac

In the opening minutes of this documentary I was treated to a dose of dread I don’t quite remember ever feeling before. Documentaries tend to be the odd genre out for me, I’m up for watching anything that’s fiction but I, fairly or unfairly, have to be legitimately interested in the subject matter if I feel I can give a documentary the accurate time of day.

When this strange beast of a film opened up I was treated to the sight and voice of a young woman, in film with production reminiscent of a half-assed Disney channel puke fest, gushing about her love… for One Direction – the alarm bells went off. I didn’t know anything about this thing before hand, the only reason I watched it was for a review assignment, and that being the case – it would be rude and inconsiderate of me to even consider turning it off if the first sign of trouble only persisted for longer than I can take.

But, determined I was to see it through so I sucked up my feelings of horror and trudged on. I’m glad to say they were not to last as the subject quickly shifted to a different boy band and the overall premise of this thing became apparent, a number of females, ranging multiple ages, are interviewed about their love/obsession with particular boy bands. I will admit that, as I just wrote those words, it does seem a bit dumb, and had I known that was the story being told here (and how sickeningly cheerful it can be at times) I wouldn’t have been interested to see this one if it was up to me.

There are some interesting subjects touched upon here, the filmmakers did do a good job at delving as much as possible into the psych behind this kind of extreme fandom, the interviewees are articulate, have interesting things to say and engaging stories to tell, the weren’t boring or annoying – quite the opposite; and I related to much of it due to myself admittedly having things I know I am a fan of to the extreme. But, what put me off a bit, was how cheerful the tone is – persistently, there’s nothing to suggest the film has any other intention than to celebrate the fandom of its interviewees, have them say a bit about themselves and that’s pretty much it.

Like I said – there were bits and things said I did find interesting but I give it a 5/10 because the good and bad seem equally balanced, there is some intrigue but it could’ve/should’ve explored more territory, regardless of these girls all having different boy bands they obsess over it all feels like the same story being told in different ways. It was intense when they talk about strained family relationships and fascinating when they talk about journeys to meet or see their idols but it wares thin after a while and it especially doesn’t help that, like I said before, filmmaking-wise it looks like the kind of thing the Disney channel would push out with the hope of no one noticing.

After seeing the whole I still think it would have been no great loss if I gave it a miss if it were up to me and I just wish it went deeper than it did, explored more territory and did more than just celebrate its subject, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating something, even extreme fandom, but you need to do more than that, you need to present a subject, that gave me the creeps when it first reared its head, with a broader treatment than simply “isn’t it cute?” So its ok, don’t need to see it again, didn’t change my life but wasn’t painful despite a cheap look and did have at least some interesting things to say.


Author: Motion Picture Maniac  


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Motion Picture Maniac

Writer, film lover and blogger. And now sadly retired from this site (rumour is he went to Russia live with the Tsars.)

Favourite Film: Touch Of Evil (used to be se7en but kinda fell out of love with it after this whole thing with Kevin Spacey came to light), Most underrated movie: everything by Zack Snyder. Most overrated movie: Carrie

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