Review: Shawn Mendes: In Wonder

Score:  C+

Director:  Grant Singer

Cast:  Shawn Mendes

Running Time:  83 Minutes

Rated:  TV-MA

"I'm just a guy who really loves music."

In much the same vein as Miss Americana, Lana Wilson's Taylor Swift focused documentary, Grant Singer's Shawn Mendes: In Wonder showcases an idolized musician's human side.

Mendes, known as much for his killer good looks as his relentless falsetto, was discovered thanks to a quick, six-second video he posted on Vine, a once-popular social media platform. His rise to superstardom is what many teenagers dream of, though his sister will tell you that he initially had no interest in becoming famous.

It is moments like these, a beautifully choreographed conversation between siblings, that allows Shawn Mendes: In Wonder to somewhat work. Singer, a music video director, works to blend Mendes' fast-paced public life with that of his home existence, one that includes him taking time to connect with his family and his current girlfriend, popstar Camila Cabello.

It's this balance that drives the film as Singer forgoes the typical linear structure, opting instead for a segmented compilation of proverbial highlights that paint a general picture with an unapologetically broad brush.

This approach can be frustrating as we lose a sense of time and place. Still, it is becoming more common, alleviating the creator of a structured narrative and putting individual moments above the overall story.

In Wonder, a title taken from the multi-platinum singer's newest album, is said to follow Mendes on his most recent world tour, emphasis on "said."

It should be noted the film features very little actual tour footage. In fact, for a movie about a musician, it struggles to incorporate Mendes' expansive catalog of hits. Though we get a plethora of clips from rehearsals, studio sessions, and bathroom warmups that offer a glimpse of Mendes' process, the footage remains surface level, failing to materialize into anything of merit.

That said, one intriguing aspect of Mendes rests in his appreciation for the classics. On occasion, he begins to hum and sing a timeless track, seamlessly showcasing his knowledge and respect for music history while shining a small light on how it influences and inspires his artistry.

Casual banter with his parents during a short trip to his childhood home to play in his hometown of Toronto shows, to a degree, his family life. But these moments are cut short as we never fully understand the draw, the importance, or at its core, the entire situation.

This recurring issue plagues the film as Singer is unable to provide context to what is on display. From the perspective of a loyal fan, all is fine in the world; however, film enthusiasts will undoubtedly find themselves bewildered at the lack of information and depth provided during the nearly ninety-minute feature.

Much like Wilson's Miss AmericanaIn Wonder is little more than a heavily controlled fluff piece. However, unlike its predecessor, this one is ceremoniously released in tandem with the subject's new album. There's nothing wrong with its existence, though you have to wonder how wide the gap is between what it is and what it could have been.

*This film is streaming globally on Netflix.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.