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Movie Review: Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey

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Over the past 20 years or so, the Internet has so completely changed the world that it is hard to imagine life without it. For Arnel Pineda, some videos on You Tube led to him becoming the lead singer of one of the biggest bands in the world. The band is Journey, and the new theatrical film Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey tells the story of how this young Filipino man got the job. It is one of the most moving rock and roll tales ever, a literal rags to riches story.

As Neil Daniels recounted in his excellent book Journey: The Untold Story, the 40-year career of Journey has had so many ups and downs as to seem written in Hollywood. The group was founded by, Neil Schon (guitar), and Gregg Rollie (bass and vocals), formerly with Santana. Their first three albums were sort of a bland mid-seventies fusion with some lyrical content. There was nothing that really resembled a hit single, and the band were almost dropped by their label. Then in 1977, Steve Perry came along, and everything changed.

From the late ‘70s on into the early ‘80s, Journey was quite possibly the biggest group on the planet. Their peak came in 1981, with the Escape album, which has gone platinum nine times over.. Later in the ’80s came the inevitable fall from grace, which according to the remaining members, was engineered by Perry’s unreasonable demands. He left the band, returned, and left again, leaving his fellow musicians more than a little perturbed at the whole situation.

Then a curious thing happened in the concert industry. The “nostalgia circuit” became highly lucrative. The idea of older artists who were not currently on the hit parade playing their hits to fans who still adored them was nothing new. But these shows began to attract huge crowds, beginning in the mid-’80s. As the baby boomers reached middle age, they provided big crowds for these types of concerts. Even without Steve Perry, Journey found that they still had a large fan base who wanted to see them.

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey follows the real life rock-n-roll fairy tale story of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the front man for iconic American rock band, Journey, thereby becoming the latest performer to go from the Internet to real life celebrity. The film shows the band during the Revelation Tour in the United States, and Pineda’s homecoming in Manila, Philippines where they performed in front of 25,000 people.

The film not only shows the difficulties Pineda had in gaining the confidence to win the job, but the hard life he had led leading up to this pivotal moment. It is a powerful story, and one which should appeal to fans of not only the band, but of the “underdog” in general.

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey is directed by Ramona S. Diaz, and features band members, lead singer Arnel Pineda and original Journey members Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory & Deen Castronovo.

The film opens in select theaters March 8, 2013.

About Greg Barbrick