Review: Reel*NSYNC: Reel Stupid
Originally posted 5-15-2002 at [url]http://www.popgurls.com[/url]
Written by Amanda, Amy
Amanda: Reel *NSYNC is exactly what a seasoned *NSYNC fan would expect from a side project by Joey Fatone (or any of them, for that matter). It’s cheesy, shoddily produced, over-sentimental, and pure. Comedy. Gold.
It started as a rumor when it first appeared on an amateur-designed website. It wasn’t the kind of place that felt safe to leave your credit card number, if you know what I mean.
Amy: I actually called Zomba to try to verify its legitimacy, but the girl I spoke with never got back to me – which only increased my suspicion.]
Amanda: It wasn’t until flyers and a jumbotron commercial began appearing during the Celebrity tour that people began to believe in its validity. Like almost everything else (Challenge for the Children, anyone?) I was disappointed in the way the distribution was handled. It was worth it, in the end, to stick out the billing and shipping issues, to get even this brief glimpse into adolescence.
Somehow I managed to remain completely unspoiled about the contents of this DVD, so the speechlessness achieved upon the first viewing was authentic. How do you prepare yourself, though, for the sheer dorkiness of these five boys? How do you keep your heart from bursting with the realization that they all started out ugly, insecure, and utterly fascinated with each other? Probably, you don’t.
Reel *NSYNC is just a snapshot of all the footage Joey shot while they were touring in Europe. In fact, the things included in the DVD appear to have taken place over the span of just a few months, and just a few occasions. That’s a big disappointment, actually. I know there’s more stuff out there. We get to see some of it, super-quick in montages between the larger “scenes.” Just by filling out those snippets, the DVD could have been double its 60-minute running time.
Amy: I felt the same – the entire time, it was if the DVD was promising to show something very cool and rare, but it never really delivered. While small snippets of funny popped up here and there, a whole lot could have been edited out to make room for better lit scenes where people were actually visible.
Amanda: Reel *NSYNC is the Chris Kirkpatrick Comedy Hour, co-starring Lance Bass. It’s such a strange turn of perceptions that I could hardly comprehend it. While Justin (completely adorable in his obvious hero-worship of Chris) provides charming backup, Lance steps right up to the plate and plays foil to Chris‘s spazziness. Like little boys – they are, really – the two of them take every prank about two minutes past the point of being funny, even though they frequently leave poor JC in hysterical giggles.
The title of one of the segments is “Things to do when you’re bored,” but the entire DVD could easily have carried this subtitle. The boys do a five-man wave on the airplane, give each other wet willies, scare each other awake, shove each other into swimming pools. They slam multiple pixie sticks at once, then run around empty airport terminals with glazed eyes, trying to burn off the sugar. They torment fans from their hotel rooms, pretending to be each other and throwing paper airplanes at them. They cackle at the absurdness of every situation, and hum with the energy of being young and on the verge of mind-blowing fame.
The DVD is at its best when they are all together, sharing in the joke. It’s too bad that Joey’s brother Steve wasn’t manning the camera, because Joey’s participation is forcibly limited by having to record everything. And as much as I love Lance (yes, even when he was skinny and geeky and too blond), as much as I see the comedic talents of Chris, I continue to be most drawn to *NSYNC when the five of them feed off each other. Driving down the highway, for instance, making up rhyming lyrics to “Do Run Run,” the earliest public evidence that JC specializes in rhyming a word with itself (“bright” and “bright”). Lined up against the tour bus window, pretending to be on a roller coaster. Riding an actual roller coaster with a frightened press photographer.
I could, honestly, do without the terrible graphics strewn throughout the DVD. An “Annoyance Meter” shows up alongside JC‘s story about lost luggage. A “Dork Meter” shows up when Lance tells the camera that escalators are cool. When Lance gives a tour of their bungalow in Africa, he is accompanied by a “Isn’t that Special” counter. During a segment about a fan who wrote “I love you” 15,000 times in honor of Chris, the screen erupts in photos of Chris surrounded by throbbing pink hearts. If I thought they knew how ironic all the cheese was, I could maybe laugh about it.
Amy: I did like the small square cyberboxes that showed up every so often to give the viewer backround on what was going on. Like their first real introduction to the German public, where their album had already gone gold, or the radio station interview when no one would call in so they had to do it themselves.
Amanda: To Joey‘s credit, there is some brutal honesty hidden under a fan “tribute.” Segment titles tell viewers how much *NSYNC loves its fans, and then that love sometimes goes “crazy.” It’s the “crazy” that is the most affecting. Fans chase cars, banging on the windows and the roof, crying and taking pictures and trampling each other. They grab for any piece of The Boys they can reach, pulling and shoving. At one point Lance begs a security guard to retrieve a gift from a fan, because she’s clinging to his car door and weeping. Another time the camera tracks them walking through a crowd at waist-level, and we hear JC saying, “Calm down.”
The most urgent reminder that they’re just boys – normal flesh and blood – is at the end of the segment. Justin and Chris have run into an elevator, and the girls are teeming at the doors, security demanding they back off. The camera turns to Justin, who is breathing hard and looks amazed and scared to death. Chris says, “I TOLD you it was going to be like that” while Justin pants beside him. Sadly, I know that some fans won’t see this as a plea for privacy. I can see girls, older now, scrutinizing their television sets for images of themselves, squealing when JC looks right. At. Them.
Amy: Oh goodness, yes. We saw that when we were in Vegas – girls of all ages, some with parents, some in mobs of giggling, screaming friends – camped out in the elevator bank of The Boys’ hotel. Or waiting for them outside whatever restaurant they were in, for what? A glimpse? A handshake? To scream and wail or be struck by absolute hysterics? There is a line before all the fan footage that says they wanted the fans to see themselves as *NSYNC sees them. I’m curious if all the fans are comfortable with that image.
Amanda: While it’s true that there has always been an amateur feel to much of *NSYNC‘s merchandise (and, honestly, that feel is a lot of their appeal), I was bothered by the haphazard, slapped-together-ness of the DVD. A lot of the video is dark and hard to make out, and they could have used someone who knew what they were doing in the edit room. Misspellings are an enormous pet peeve of mine – it irritated me each time one popped up. Plus, in one of the performances at the end, there is a frame that pops in with the words “Unrendered Frame” and “Fill in.” This may have been edited together from home videos, but if they’re going to charge, and claim themselves to be a professional business, it should be clean and well-done. There is a mass amount of footage available on ebay that gives more of an exclusive, personal look at the days of *NSYNC, and people are snapping it up hungrily. If *NSYNC wants to capitalize on that demand, they should spend quality time creating a product that won’t make their fans feel ripped off.]
I’m guessing that Reel *NSYNC is a test. How much desire still exists for *NSYNC merchandise? What will people pay for it? I hope it’s a test the fan pass, that this is just the first of many volumes.