MARK KENNEDYAssociated Press
There’s a moment in Post Malone’s new concert film where his star confesses how surreal his life has become: “Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real person.”
Fans won’t get any clarity on this astonishing statement after watching Amazon’s “Post Malone: Runaway,” 65 flabby, uninspired flash minutes with no substance. It’s unreal.
Not only does the genre-blending hitmaker not appear as a real person, the film never tries to help him. Fans won’t learn anything new and the curious might even be discouraged.
The documentary captures Post Malone’s first US tour of 2019 – a 37-date tour across North America with stops in Los Angeles, Dallas and New York, among others.
The filmmakers – director Hector Dockrill and writers Sam Bridger and Casey Engelhardt – were given behind-the-scenes access without doing anything significant, finding themselves more like hype men than independent observers.
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“Post Malone: Runaway” feels like an hour-long music video in many ways, with 10 songs – “Take What You Want”, “Wow” and “Rockstar”, among them – captured with camera angles shaky and distorted, interspersed with happy behind-the-scenes and tons of beer pong. Oh, so much beer pong. It humanizes Posty but also makes him look like an over-aged brother who clings to childish things.
Moments in the film show our hero not rocking a Solo cigarette or mug, a tortured genius who seems perpetually tipsy, shouting his words in a kind of existential squat on stage and getting angry at violations of beer rules. pong after the shows.
Introspection is not his forte.
“It’s either you’re with it or you’re not,” he said. “The songs, I guess, are what they are, and I am who I am.”
The filmmakers seem happier to go back to hysterical fan shots and seem a little too enamored with the pyrotechnics of the tour.
How is Malone able to create hits like “Sunflower”? Don’t look here. “It just has a certain vibe and a certain feeling that’s rare to find,” says songwriter Billy Walsh.
The non-Posty interviews consist of superstar guests stopping backstage — Alicia Keys and Timbaland, among them, and a genuinely uncomfortable Billie Joe Armstrong.
“That was awesome,” the Green Day songwriter says, not entirely convincingly.
Then there are the voices of Malone’s entourage – including, bizarrely, his bus driver – who are, after all, paid to be thrilled to be on tour with him.
“You can’t deny it anymore. He’s real,” says Cheryl Paglierani, his agent. He is real, understood.
It evokes the mood of the documentary, which is a kind of grievance tour. There is a defense in Malone and his team that is ridiculously unfounded. He is described as fighting the impression that he is a lightweight and not the youngest artist to have three diamond-certified singles or to break the record for most concurrent Billboard Hot 100 top 20 hits. It’s hard to fill up when you’ve sold out Madison Square Garden.
Poor Posty also has to deal with the glare of the public. He reveals that it’s hard to go to different cities, light up every night, and start again the next night.
Often, he stares into the camera even trying to capture his greatness: “On tour, you’re surrounded by people every day. It’s exhausting at times,” he says.
His team points out that unlike Elvis, Michael Jackson or Madonna, Malone lives in the age of social media, which sometimes has haters writing that he’s not as good as he imagines. He’s in his twenties now. Is he really finding out that Twitter is a horrible place?
One of the most awkward moments is Ozzy Osbourne’s appearance for “Take What You Want.” Malone seems unable to fit in with one of rock’s greatest gods – or even talk to him – and Ozzy is left onstage abandoned and smiling maniacally, simply throwing his arms up. The torch has not passed, shall we say.
But there’s one character that emerges as an intriguing star – and it’s not Malone. It’s Swae Lee, with an ear for melody that stuns even Malone. As for the documentary on the man of the hour, do as the title suggests: Flee.