Movie Review: Backstreet Boys Doc 'Show 'Em What You're Made Of' Depicts Boy Band's Complicated Journey

Backstreet Boys
Review
4
<p class="BODYLeftnoIndent">The life span of a boy band can often seem predetermined. As the boys mature into men and their teen audience ages out, two paths emerge: either break up and move on, or embrace their fate as a nostalgia act.</p><p align="center"><a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6450367/backstreet-boys-documentary-exclusive-clip" target="_blank">Exclusive: Backstreet Boys Discuss What's Next For Them in Documentary Clip</a></p><p class="BODYLeftnoIndent">For <a href="http://www.billboard.com/artist/275645/backstreet-boys/chart">Backstreet Boys</a>, the highs were skyscraping: They moved tens of millions of albums worldwide, sold out arenas and had an embarrassment of chart-topping hits. But the documentary <em>Show 'Em What You're Made Of</em>, an all-access pass to the quintet's life during the past two years, focuses less on its planet-conquering success than it does on what happened when it faded. It's a naked examination of how little fame matters when it fails to yield anything lasting, be it personal wealth or fulfillment, skillfully humanizing a group whose celebrity outshined the players within it.</p><p class="BODYLeftnoIndent">In the doc, the members (Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and A.J. McLean) unflinchingly come to terms with a past that haunts them. Emotions bubble to the surface when they return to their childhood homes -- most weep while reflecting on lives left behind -- and soon turn vindictive as they rehash how the group's creator, Lou Pearlman, who's currently incarcerated for running a Ponzi scheme, financially betrayed them.</p><p align="center"><a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6170569/backstreet-boys-cancel-israel-concerts-amid-hostilities">Backstreet Boys Cancel Israel Concerts Amid Hostilities</a></p><p>But it's when the Boys contemplate the future that the film really compels. As they grapple with Littrell's vocal detrition in the face of a hoped-for comeback, tensions mount; during a meeting about a new LP, Carter erupts, blaming him for failures that are yet to happen. It's the ugly side of a group whose pretty looks used to be a selling point, and it has come to light in this surprisingly fascinating film.</p><p><em>This story will appear in the Feb</em><em>. 14 issue of Billboard.</em></p>