The Good: Decent footage, Awesome charisma, Very cool that the documentary presents the full ensemble
The Bad: Short, Underuse of iconic songs, Presentation/performance, Very odd arrangement
The Basics: Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids might document accurately the final performance from the 20/20 Experience Tour, but it dramatically undersells both the concert experience and Timberlake's talents.
Every now and then, it is hammered home to me the age difference between my amazing wife and I. She is more than a decade younger than me and sometimes those years show in our musical preferences. So, when she put on the Netflix concert documentary Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, I quickly realized just how few songs from Justin Timberlake as a solo artist I actually know. I also realized that I have a very different concert-going experience than most people her age. I am not, as it turns out, into the whole big amphitheater concert thing. The musical artists who I have seen in concert - with the exception of Matchbox Twenty - have all been smaller venues where everyone can see and hear the performer.
That is not the experience documented in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is a ninety minute concert documentary that chronicles the final performance by Justin Timberlake and The Tennessee Kids at the Las Vegas MGM Grand as part of the 20/20 Experience World Tour. Fleshed out with material of the concert preparation, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is a pretty straightforward concert performance. While the 20/20 Experience World Tour might have been one of the most profitable musical tours in history, viewing the film Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids objectively, it is hard to see why.
The concert performance chronicled in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is a mix of Justin Timberlake songs with covers and mash-ups that include Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" and Bel Biv DeVoe "Poison." Of Timberlake's original songs, I recognized three and they were good, as were the rest of the songs. Justin Timberlake and his ensemble have a pretty wonderful performance ability when they are singing and dancing, as one might expect.
Director Jonathan Demme and Justin Timberlake do an awesome job in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids of highlighting the whole ensemble. All of the instrumental performers and dancers are interviewed for Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids and they all seem very excited about the experience of working with Justin Timberlake. It is very classy that Justin Timberlake and Demme do not simply focus on the a-list celebrity who is the film's prime focus.
But Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids is far from perfect. First and foremost, while the footage from the concert is undoubtedly better than any seat one would have had at the actual concert - a thought nailed home by several shots that showed just how massive the theater was - it is edited in a very weird way. Many times when Justin Timberlake is performing, the shot changes to a completely random shot of someone else in the ensemble. For some of Justin Timberlake's most impressive dance moves, the camera is placed so far back that it barely captures his moves.
Beyond that, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids illustrates one of the serious issues with major concert performances; the performer barely performs. Throughout the concert captured in Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids Justin Timberlake calls out for audience participation and he stops singing and lets his backing vocalists carry the songs. There is something very frustrating about watching Justin Timberlake smile in the build-up to one of his songs, hear him sing three words and then watch him just give up and let others carry the song. Sure, he pops back in for an occasional word or phrase, but there are astonishingly few songs as the documentary goes into its second half that Justin Timberlake performs with his full voice and ability.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids also has a very weird arrangement. Near the middle of the performance, Justin Timberlake and his ensemble perform a mash-up that includes "Human Nature." It's a great closer. But the concert goes on. After this decent downbeat, Justin Timberlake and the other performers ramp the whole performance back up and it makes for a very awkward flow.
Ultimately, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids might accurately capture the final performance of Justin Timberlake and The Tennessee Kids on the 20/20 Experience World Tour, but it does not highlight well the energy of the concert experience, the talents of Justin Timberlake or make for an overall entertaining experience. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids barely showcases the talents of The Tennessee Kids, Justin Timberlake's back-up dancers and the audience at the show.
For other Netflix originals, please check out my reviews of:
Love - Season 2
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
"Happy Fuckin' New Year" - Sense8
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
Take The 10
True Memoirs Of An International Assassin
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
The Fundamentals Of Caring
The Ridiculous 6
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1
Grace And Frankie - Season 2
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 2
Arrested Development - Season 4
The Clone Wars - Season 6
Orange Is The New Black - Season 1
House Of Cards - Season 4
For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.