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Explaining Justin Bieber in 'Believe'

  • Justin Bieber. (Photo by Powers Imagery/Invision/AP, File)

Justin Bieber wasn't sure he liked what he saw.

When the petite pop prince from the Great White North first viewed a rough cut of the new documentary “Justin Bieber's Believe,” he excitedly called its director Jon Chu in the middle of the night to voice concerns.

Not about the less-than-flattering aspects of the movie, like where Chu asks Bieber about him turning into a “train wreck.” Or where the director, speaking off-camera, ponders if Bieber will wind up like Michael Jackson or Lindsay Lohan.

The 19-year-old superstar was hung up on a segment in which he's shown talking about being in love and experiencing heartbreak. Could Chu edit Bieber's halting answers down to more concise sound bites?

“He was, like, 'I'm umming and awwing a lot. Can you, like, clean that up?'” recalled Chu. “'It feels like I don't know what love is.' And I'm, like, 'That's awesome! That you're trying to find the right words is so great. That's why we like you.' He's, like, 'OK. I just don't want to look like an idiot.'"

With its insider's view of teenage fandom's foremost icon, “Justin Bieber's Believe,” opening today, presents any number of compelling insights on its subject: as a self-starting artist shown putting pencil to loose leaf pad to write his hit 2012 single “Boyfriend.” As a cheerful kid with an extensive wardrobe of harem pants who's at least self-reflective enough to admit his attempt to grow a barely there mustache is “delusional.” As a man-child on the cusp of adulthood, able and willing to butt heads with his powerhouse manager Scooter Braun.

But contrary to the avalanche of tabloid reports about the star that materialize on a weekly basis — “Justin Bieber Pees Into Restaurant Mop Bucket,” “Justin Bieber Goes Butt Naked With a Guitar in Leaked Photos!” — he does not seem feckless in the film. In addition to scenes of “Beatlemania"-on-steroids fan adulation and concert footage shot during his last tour, “Believe” serves to humanize a teenager who is so constantly in the public eye that he's become an abstraction.

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