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


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

-- Rating: NR
Length: 113 minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Directed by: Ramona S. Diaz
Genre: Documentary

Nearly everyone knows at least one song by Journey. The rock band hit it big with original singer Steve Perry, but when Perry left, fans wondered what would happen next. After rebounding with a new singer, the band released a series of hit singles before that singer also left the band. "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" tells the story of what happened next.

This documentary takes fans behind the scenes of the band and the lives of the members while on tour. Steve Augeri, who joined the band after Perry left, acted as front man for several years until he discovered that he could no longer sing. While other bands in the same situation simply hired someone from a tribute band who sounded similar, Jonathon Cain, one of the original members of Journey, decided to look on the Internet.

During his search, Cain found Arnel Pineda, a young singer from Manila. When Cain told the band's manager about the new singer, he didn't believe him and thought it was a joke. Pineda thought the same thing, telling his family and friends that someone just played a mean trick on him. Cain didn't waste time proving that Pineda was legitimate and sent him a plane ticket to meet the band.

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" focuses on how life changed for the young man and how the band came to accept him as one of their own. The early days were far from easy. Pineda, suffering from stress and jet lag, had problems in the recording studio, and the other members of Journey feared that Cain made a mistake. Once Pineda finally found his footing, he launched Journey into the stratosphere.

The documentary explores how fans and audiences felt about Journey before and after adding its new lead singer. Viewers will see the band touring across the country, making appearances on television shows, and fan reactions. In one memorable moment, Pineda finds himself the center of attention as a group of Filipino men and women throw themselves at him. As his eyes light up, viewers will realize how important this moment is to the young singer.

Director Diaz interviews Augeri to get his perspective on the band's fan base. Many of those fans disliked Pineda from the moment he first signed on with the band, and those fans were also dismayed when Augeri joined the band. Though Augeri describes his attempts to win over fans in depth, he seems a little off-putting when he looks down on Pineda. As he explains, he doesn't understand how someone so young could ever live up to the legacy of the band.

It's not surprising that Journey has such a legion of fans. Perry was at the forefront of the band for years, and it was his voice that helped the band gain so many fans. Though the band hasn't released a hit song in a number of years, they still manage to sell out stadiums around the world. The documentary shows fans crowded around the stage, screaming their hearts out and rooting for the band.

Diaz moves from those scenes to focus on the struggles that Pineda faced. The young man has a certain innocence about him that makes him seem even younger than he really is, and while some viewers might root for him, others will find themselves rolling their eyes at his naivety. There are a few moments in the documentary when it seems like he doesn't have the chops to make it as a professional singer. If he cannot handle a few comments from fans or a few sneers from the crowd, how will he ever handle the critics who complain about Journey? Though it takes awhile, he finally does step up to the plate and sing his heart out, making it clear that he's a man who can lead this band.

Diaz created a film that will appeal to Journey fans in "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey." Even those who aren't fond of the new singer will learn more about Pineda, and after seeing the journey that he took, some fans might have a better understanding of him. "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" will also appeal to those who have a passing familiarity with Journey and even those who criticized the band in the past. Those who watch the film will find a pleasing story, and some might even find themselves humming a few Journey tunes after the film ends.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars