‘The Beach Boys’ documentary review: As it should be

Whether you are a devoted fan, or just curious about the Beach Boys and music history, the new doc might be illuminating.
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Music documentaries (and series) are ‘dime a dozen’ these days, they cover everything from pop or rock in general, to the history of a band, an album, or even a single song. Some involve detailed research and add relevant cultural or social elements, others are a haphazard collection of music clips and few opinions. Basically, some are really good, some are pure waste of time.

One characteristic runs through so many of them - they are done by fans from fans, and they try to iron out or simply skip over any bumps or contentious moments that are relevant when looking at a certain artist(s) and their music. At the same time, many of those documentaries simply appear in front of us with no promotion or a single announcement.

Practically all those negative elements listed are not related to the latest music documentary about one of the greatest bands in modern music history, the Beach Boys, now running everywhere on Disney+.

How good is the new documentary about the Beach Boys?

Disney and all involved in the production of the film took good care of promoting the film, making a sort of hype before its release, bringing up a question for many who are not so enamored with the band whether it is worth it. After watching almost two hours of the film, the answer would be quite a resounding yes.

Chronologically collecting a series of seen, and quite a lot of unseen clips, images, and relevant words from all the living and gone members of the band (sadly departed brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson), as well as quite well-chosen selection of opinions from other artists, writers, and participants (producer Don Was and former Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham stand out), the film charts out the history of the band, its relevance in modern music to this day.

The film’s main authors, co-directors Frank Marshall (who previously did one on The Bee Gees) and Thom Zimny (known for his Bruce Springsteen videos), go through all the ups and downs, controversies, the relevance of the band’s music, the question of Brian Wilson’s genius and his mental health issues, and their perspective and overall influence on the band, giving elements of cultural and social perspective where necessary.

As long as the history of the band is, it was practically impossible to cover the band’s output in full. The film, probably due to its length, doesn’t go too deep into the band’s late sixties/early seventies output which is rich in brilliant music, stressing the point of timelessness of the band’s early to mid-sixties music.

Craft-wise, the film is done exactly as it should have been, there are no illogical jumps or slips, and unseen footage and images are integrated with already known in a fluid, even manner.

Next. Overlooked 1980s. Overlooked albums from the 1980s. dark

With all that The Beach Boys brings behind its deceptively simple title, it is not only a treasure trove for fans. The doc includes a lot of facts and things they were previously unaware of, but a film all music fans should have on their ‘must see’ list. 

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