A Review of “The Beach Boys” Documentary

A new documentary chronicling the highs and lows of California-based band The Beach Boys is out now, featuring interviews with members of the band, artists, and family members.

The Beach Boys were made up of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and good friends – Al Jardine and David Marks. Mike Love credits the success and longevity of the group to the family. In the early days, they made surf rock music, becoming the perfect image of Southern California.

Don Was states: “The most articulate spokesperson for the California dream were The Beach Boys. Man, they made me wanna go to that place where they had cars, and girls in bikinis, and surf boards. And sun and warmth.”

Directed by Frank Marshall (‘The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’) and Thom Zimny (‘Springsteen on Broadway’), ‘The Beach Boys’ features Dennis and Carl Wilson and the Wrecking Crew musicians through archival footage, interviews with and members, artists and musicians like Ryan Tedder, Janelle Monáe, Don Was, and Lindsey Buckingham, as well as unseen footage.

“I think particularly landlocked states dead center of the country, the appeal was even greater because it was, like, foreign. It’s a foreign sound. Their music takes you someplace. You can listen to ‘Surfin’ U.S.A., and geographically your brain goes to sunny Southern California,” says OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder in the documentary while speaking about why fans are enchanted by The Beach Boys.

The Beach Boys are among the most successful bands on the planet. They’ve sold more than 100 million records, with multiple number 1 hits and 15 “top 15” songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and they’ve received four Grammy nods.

Their career in music started after their song ‘Surfin’ got picked to be played on radio stations. The requests coming in to play the track on the radio kept increasing until Brian decided he wanted a career in music. They all quit school and college and focused on the band. The Beach Boys’ music soared high on the charts, and they started touring across the globe. And soon came one of the most popular bands on the planet in the picture – The Beatles.

The Beatles taking the world by storm was a threat to many artists and The Beach Boys were affected by it too. The band faced hurdles within the group, with Brian’s unwillingness to tour, their relationship with their manager, Murry Wilson, and more. Many times, the success of the group was credited to Brian Wilson, which not everyone in the group agreed with.

Murry Wilson, who was Brian, Carl, and Dennis’ father, became their manager and got them a record label deal. However, it got to a point where they couldn’t have their dad as their manager and tour manager, so he ended up taking over publishing after many arguments. Later on, Murray Wilson sold their catalog for a mere USD 700,000, leaving the group heartbroken. As much as the Beach Boys tasted the sweet honey of success, their lives had some really difficult moments as seen in the documentary, including nervous breakdowns, mental illness, addiction and child abuse.

There were exits and re-entries of the band members in the group, but The Beach Boys kept going. Brian was working on the melodies while Mike was penning the lyrics. Legal battles ensued after Murry sold their catalog. ‘The Beach Boys’ is a great documentary for newer fans to learn about the formative days of the band. It pieces together the highlights, obstacles of the band, their achievements, as well as difficult moments in a 1-hour 53-minute documentary. They have also penned their first official book titled ‘The Beach Boys,’ a wonderful read for diehard fans looking to learn about the band more intimately.

“The Beach Boys are a family story, not without its ups and downs, but the positivity far outweighs the negativity,” states Mike Love in a sweet yet somber segment in the film.

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