The Jonas Brothers are BACK! Their Chasing Happiness documentary arrives on Amazon Prime just in time to bring back their hits for a nostalgic summer.
If you asked me to name three songs by the band Rush on any given day, I would fail. However, I have seen Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage and Rush: Time Stand Still more times than some classic Disney films.
And while I enjoy the live performances, watching the crew turn a stadium from an empty shell into an explosive stage in mere hours, and listening to fans recount their journey across the country or globe to see their favorite musicians, it is the band talking about their journey that keeps me coming back.
What would it take to make someone stop playing music? When does the thrill of stepping into a crowd cheering your name lose its luster? And how, if you are in a band, do you look at the other people assembled there and say, “You know what, I think I need some time away?”
The Jonas Brothers are preparing to step back into the spotlight in a major way. They performed on SNL, they released a few new songs, they are selling out a massive arena tour, they are guest staring on the relaunch of All That, there is a memoir on the way. While it may seem like Jonas overload, watching Chasing Happiness, it seems on par for the way the brothers skyrocketed into stardom. They only know one speed — all or nothing.
“Chasing Happiness” is about the journey the Jonas Brothers took from their first performance through getting ready to step back into the spotlight. But for fans of their music and consumers of the constant media news, does it feel like they ever really left?
To me, that was the most shocking reveal in the documentary — realizing how much time has passed from their last bow on stage together.
In the opening minutes you get the sense that coming back together to make music, go on a tour, and make the sacrifices of time with their respective families did not come lightly. They note that it has been almost six years since just the three of them spent time together. Together in Australia at Joe’s home away from home, they cycle through some questions and reflect on what Nick’s suggestion to end the band meant for their respective paths in life.
Through home videos, early recordings of their album launch, and performances in auditoriums around the east coast, the documentary cycles through the sacrifices that their parents and family unit made to make their dream a reality. If you were a fan of the Jonas Brothers in their hay day, then some of the details of their upbringing — early roles on Broadway, their connection and rejection from their church, and their Disney channel springboard — might not shock you.
The documentary gives you the sense that three best friends (who happen to be brothers) needed time apart to rediscover what made their time together so important. Approaching any documentary, you are hyper aware that cameras are around, and the content is crafted through a “comeback” lens. But that does not change the way that watching Joe, Nick, and Kevin reconnect in the near present reflects those early videos of them cheering Kevin on as he invites a girl to hang out after a show.
You’ll walk away with the sense that their priorities have not shifted — family before fame and money. But you’ll also feel that they are coming back to perform for you as well. The people who slept outside of the TRL studios, who watched their videos on Disney channel, who learned the songs from Camp Rock through “Cake by the Ocean.”
As a passive Jonas Brother fan in another life (yes, I saw them in concert), the documentary is the perfect primer to get you back into the zone to usher in the band of the summer once more.
A word of caution: Be prepared to go on a deep dive into the Jonas Brothers discography on the music platform of your choosing. I have been listening to “Hold On” for three straight days.
Chasing Happiness premieres on Tuesday, June 4 on Amazon Prime.