Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey
A pretty standard rock documentary, Ramona Diaz’s look at Filipino cover band singer Arnel Pineda’s unlikely rise to become the lead singer of the established rock band Journey hits all the standard inspirational movie beats, and somewhat unwittingly paints the band itself in a less than flattering light.
Overcoming poverty as a child and addiction and rejection as an adult, Pineda was discovered by band member Neal Schon on YouTube (from a video uploaded by a fan from an internet cafe) and asked to come in to help them cut a new album. Diaz looks at the diverging paths of Pineda and the band and how they came fatefully together.
To Pineda’s credit, he seems like an eminently likeable and down to Earth dude, and his ability to mimic former lead singer Steve Perry is uncanny. Even the way he deals with the racism and criticism sent his way is refreshing. Unfortunately, there’s maybe only an hour of really interesting or relevant material in this bloated 115 minute doc, and most of it comes from the rest of the band being almost insufferably self-aggrandizing. It’s patently obvious that the rest of the band is merely using Arnel to keep the cheques coming in and the nostalgia train rolling on rather than evolving as serious artists. Their joy for performing seems genuine, but to hear how they made their first million or bemoaning the state of the economy and how grateful they are their fans still spend (more likely than not exorbitant amounts of) money to see them sours what could have been a decent enough underdog story. When the obvious dollar sign in the room is ignored like an invisible elephant, it’s hard to take the band seriously, regardless of how genuine their new frontman may be. (Andrew Parker)
Saturday, November 9th, The Royal, 7:00pm