'Everyman' Journey Doc Shows Triumph, Confusion

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"

Director: Ramona S. Diaz

Distributor: Cinedigm

Producer: Ramona S. Diaz

Featuring: Arnel Pineda, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Deen Castronovo

Running time: 105 minutes

Release dates: March 8 (theaters), March 9 (video on demand)

Arnel Pineda's voice is the attraction in "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey." It's his face, though, that conveys the story: elation, exhaustion, despair, confusion and triumph.

Ramona S. Diaz's documentary tells all of Journey's story, but the emphasis is on Pineda's first tour as the band's lead singer. Lifted out of obscurity from the Philippines by Journey founder/guitarist Neal Schon, who discovered him on YouTube, that oft-told story gets revisited here, but with more input from Pineda.

The members of Journey and their manager, John Baruck, become uniformly sold on Pineda after some initial trepidation on the part of everyone except Schon. The intimate look at how a band acquires new fans, reconnects with its catalog and develops a relationship with a new frontman is the documentary's most compelling asset for industry insiders.

It's as random a story as anyone in rock'n'roll has ever experienced--a fan goes to an Internet cafe nightly and uploads 60 videos to YouTube, and a guitarist of an established band stumbles upon one in the middle of the night, which leads to an audition halfway around the world, a new record and the most intense tour in the group's history.

Diaz swerves away from chronologically detailing pre-Pineda Journey stories or Pineda's 25 years without any consistent success. The fairytale qualities--and they exist in both camps here--would play better if told in a more linear fashion. That might owe to a lack of footage that could put the exclamation point on this heartwarming story. As it is, the payoff for everyone involved is the advent of a Filipino following for Journey, a new house for Pineda and his family, and a homecoming concert in Manila. In the end, though, we're still left wondering if Pineda is truly a member of Journey or just a hired hand.