They came on strong and took tween girls as their pop music prisoners. The Jonas Brothers aren’t only back with new music and a new tour, they’re back with a documentary. Chasing Happiness, available for streaming on Prime, gives us a first hand look at how the band came to be (aside from being born with a similar genetic code under one roof), what/who was behind their high profile split, and why they decided to reform the band. (SPOILER ALERT: They SWEAR it’s not for the money)
Since their story played out on MTV, Disney Channel, and in tabloid headlines, casual fans or parents of children who were tweens from 2007-2012 already know the basics of the story. But Chasing Happiness gives fans a look at not just the fun of being the Boy-Band-Of-The-Moment, but also the hard work that went in to becoming the Boy-Band-Of-The-Moment, and the drama that brought that moment to an end.
Much of the doc is told from interviews with Nick, Joe, and Kevin, both individual and together. We also hear from Mom & Dad Jonas and a few of the music professionals that were with them back in the day. While they talk we get clips of home movies and videos the label shot during their heyday.
All the elements are woven together to share what is made to feel like a heartfelt, first person narrative of how the Jonas brothers became The Jonas Brothers.
The story of struggling despite their obvious talent and flirtation with homelessness is all well and good, but at the end of the day is requisite. We’re all here for the dirt. The betrayal. The Breakup!
But despite seeming to address it off the top, we have to sit through an hour of the other stuff first. About an hour into the 90 minute doc they get to the red meat. Sort of.
While they make no bones about the fact that it was Nick who dropped the bomb, the brothers (or Nick and the producers) try to spread the blame onto the others via circumstances. Nick says he was creatively stifled. Nick and Joe didn’t like Kevin’s reality show. They weren’t clicking as a band while they geared up for a tour.
But I’m not buying it. Nick was the Alpha Brother since he was five, was during the break up, and still is today. And rightly so. Nick is immensely talented. He can sing, play instruments, and act his ass off.
But any attempt to say that they are a group of co-equal band members is egregious, at best. The interviews were shot in various glamour locations over the past year or so. And it reveals that it was Nick who “casually” mentioned that he missed playing with his brothers. He broke up the band, and when it suited him, either professionally or personally, he was the one to put Humpty Dumpty back together.
What I don’t understand is why the documentary tries to hedge this fact even though it’s blatantly obvious.
Chasing Happiness is a fine documentary for what it is: some behind the scenes of the boys back in the day and a serviceable explanation for why they broke up and why they’re back together now. But it’s not worth wasting a gorgeous summer weekend indoors. If it’s raining or you want to put it on for the kids in the minivan during a road trip, you’re good to go.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Coffee and a mimosa. That’s what Nick wants to drink when they open the documentary in Australia. Sounds good to me. Minus the coffee.