'The Greatest Night in Pop' review: Netflix music doc favors fun facts over depth

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Group changeable of USA for Africa signaling session.

Musicians of each benignant sewage together for "We Are The World." Credit: Netflix

Looking backmost connected nan infinitesimal successful clip that The Greatest Night successful Pop captures is simply a dizzying thing. Even successful 1985, nan signaling of nan azygous "We Are The World" was inexplicable. Out of nowhere, immoderate of nan biggest signaling artists successful modern American euphony were joined successful a chorus for charity. Thinking backmost connected nan euphony video, nan postulation of celebrated faces seems for illustration a fever dream much than a memory: Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, for immoderate logic Dan Aykroyd, and many, galore more. 

They'd travel together to create a fundraising azygous to conflict famine successful Africa, and they achieved awe-inspiring occurrence successful collaboration and philanthropy. But looking back, it feels moreover much intolerable to ideate thing truthful sincere and star-stuffed coming together astatine all. 

The documentary The Greatest Night In Pop is fueled by this consciousness of awe. Director Bao Nguyen offers interviews from a agelong database of nan single's contributors alongside behind-the-scenes footage that takes america into nan signaling convention that was arsenic stressful arsenic it was surreal. The consequence is simply a documentary that is undeniably enchanting — moreover if willfully naive. 

Lionel Richie is The Greatest Night successful Pop's MVP. 

Lionel Richie successful "The Greatest Night successful Pop."

Credit: Netflix

Lionel Richie, who serves arsenic a talking caput arsenic good arsenic a shaper here, returns to nan signaling workplace wherever they each convened connected January 25, 1985. With nan thief of colleagues for illustration Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Smokey Robinson, Sheila E., and Dionne Warwick, he constructs nan unthinkable communicative of really nan opus came together. 

Each of nan question and reply subjects brings absorbing perspectives and engaging anecdotes, galore of them coating a image of euphony shaper Quincy Jones — who does not participate successful nan doc — arsenic brilliant, patient, and inspiringly ambitious. But arsenic Richie was progressive pinch nan azygous early on, co-writing it pinch Michael Jackson, he shoulders overmuch of nan story. 

Far from having a Behind nan Music vibe, The Greatest Night successful Pop is not willing successful nan scandals and shocks that would travel later successful immoderate of these musicians' careers. There will beryllium nary melodramatic euphony stings arsenic personification says thing shady. No syrupy narrator will thread successful foreboding aliases stoke play from a vague comment. Nguyen keeps nan communicative comparatively focused and easy to watch by keeping to nan taxable astatine hand, pinch small to nary liking successful nan future. This gives Richie nan abstraction to play storyteller comfortably; he regales america pinch specifications astir what an eccentric Jackson was, busting retired stories astir really nan King of Pop's animal menagerie became an unwelcome distraction during nan penning phase. Aside from being a move storyteller, Richie besides proves a coagulated mimic. His belief of Jackson is arsenic bully arsenic that of nan ample python who intruded connected a brainstorming session. 

The Greatest Night successful Pop gives affable access. 

Huey Lewis, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson successful "The Greatest Night successful Pop."

Huey Lewis, Quincy Jones, and Michael Jackson successful "The Greatest Night successful Pop." Credit: Netflix

Richie is our charismatic circuit guideline done titular humanities event, offering winsome stories and an cognition that we're being allowed beyond nan velvet rope. In this abstraction acold from fans and paparazzi, nan stars are not conscionable glamorous — they're geeking retired to meet their idols. Charming anecdotes and matching archival photographs are shared of artists exchanging their expanse euphony to beryllium autographed for illustration a precocious schoolhouse yearbook. Several interviewees callback really successful awe they were to beryllium successful nan aforesaid room arsenic nan surviving legends connected this track. 

Here, Huey Lewis proves a standout, acknowledging that he was a comparatively caller kid connected nan block, drop-jawed to beryllium successful nan aforesaid convention arsenic Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. His arc wrong nan communicative is among nan astir satisfying, some saccharine and grateful. Elsewhere, Springsteen has a awesome statement trying to sum up Bob Dylan, whose people stylings struggled successful this group setting. Where technicians from that nighttime springiness building to really everything came together, talent for illustration Dionne Warwick provides colorful commentary that is gleeful fun, arsenic if told successful a conspiratorial cackle complete cocktails. 

In general, these interviews overgarment The Greatest Night successful Pop to beryllium a magical infinitesimal wherever a bunch of large stars overcame their egos for nan betterment of nan world — in a clip erstwhile that didn't gain derision. The film's joyful reside invites america to subordinate successful connected nan lovefest, though location is simply a frisson of play that threatens to overshadow everything else.

Prince stands retired by staying retired of The Greatest Night successful Pop. 

The closest nan movie gets to play is Prince. Though nan iconic creator chose not to participate successful nan event, nan will-he-won't-he of it each becomes an intriguing theme. Specifically, nan play tangles astir Sheila E., Prince's then-girlfriend and philharmonic workfellow arsenic good arsenic nan Queen of Percussion. She was really excited to beryllium progressive pinch "We Are nan World." However, successful her interview, she recalls really nan producers connected nan nighttime of nan signaling many times pushed her to telephone Prince and induce him to come. "The Glamorous Life" vocalist began to consciousness that she wasn't invited connected her ain merit, but only because of her celebrated lover. All these years later, that emotion of rejection intelligibly still stings arsenic she hangs her caput successful her interview.

To Nguyen's credit, nan documentarian does not disregard Sheila E.'s experience, but he doesn't property nan different producers and musicians connected this constituent either. And so, Sheila E. is near to dangle connected a sullen note. Though this arc does springiness nan movie a debased moment, it doesn't truthful overmuch detract from nan wide enjoyment of nan film. However, her communicative does push america to wonderment astir nan different angles that are not explored — troublesome behaviour that was laughed disconnected aliases whispers that won’t beryllium spoken of.

This is not nan benignant of documentary that digs peculiarly deep, looking for nan acheronian corners of nan shiny popular story. As its title suggests, The Greatest Night successful Pop is simply a celebration, afloat of nostalgia for a supposedly simpler clip erstwhile prima powerfulness mightiness sweetly combat nan evils of nan world. The last enactment notes cheerily really this azygous inspired use concerts for illustration Farm Aid and Live Aid. So, this is propaganda for nan powerfulness of popular euphony — popaganda, if you will. And sure, what nan artists accomplished that nighttime should beryllium lauded, arsenic they donated their clip and talent to nan greater good. On reflection, there's thing uneasy successful only calling upon participants to proclaim nan night's greatness. But it’s thing that won’t beryllium explored successful this documentary.

In nan end, The Greatest Night In Pop is simply a bully documentary for Netflix viewing. Fun and fluffy pinch celebrated faces, brisk pacing, and plentifulness of playful tales, it's thing you could put connected casually while folding laundry. And it is very satisfying connected that front.

The Greatest Night successful Pop was reviewed retired of nan 2024 Sundance Film Festival; nan documentary debuts is now streaming connected Netflix.

Mashable Image

Kristy Puchko is nan Film Editor astatine Mashable. Based successful New York City, she's an established movie professional and intermezo reporter, who has traveled nan world connected assignment, covered a assortment of movie festivals, co-hosted movie-focused podcasts, interviewed a wide array of performers and filmmakers, and had her activity published connected RogerEbert.com, Vanity Fair, and The Guardian. A personnel of nan Critics Choice Association and GALECA arsenic good arsenic a Top Critic connected Rotten Tomatoes, Kristy's superior attraction is movies. However, she's besides been known to gush complete television, podcasts, and committee games. You tin travel her connected Twitter.

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