sun 16/06/2024

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+ review - how the boy from Sayreville, NJ conquered the world | reviews, news & interviews

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+ review - how the boy from Sayreville, NJ conquered the world

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+ review - how the boy from Sayreville, NJ conquered the world

Four-part documentary series outstays its welcome

Jon Bon Jovi, 40 years on

To mark the 40th anniversary of New Jersey’s second-greatest gift to rock’n’roll, Disney+ have served up this sprawling four-part documentary which tells you more about Jon Bon Jovi and his band of brothers than you ever needed to know. Or, possibly, wanted to.

One has to conclude that it has been created in the image of Jon Bon himself, in all his obsessive, control-freak glory. Far from a hell-for-leather rock’n’roller, too fast to live and too young to die, he comes across as a sober, thoughtful workaholic who has maintained a steely grip on his career virtually since he learned to walk. He’s very, very earnest and can be a trifle boring. Among several memorable (for the wrong reasons) lines, my favourite was “out of great pain comes great art.”Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+In 1989 he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothea, and they’re still together and have four kids. With over 130 million records sold worldwide, you might imagine the now 62-year-old might be inclined to put his feet up, but no. We see him agonising endlessly over the damage to his vocal cords which prompted him to have surgery in 2022, and his struggle to get his voice back to performing pitch is depicted with all the sombre gravitas of a Papal inauguration.

There is a lesson here, though – you don’t get to become one of the biggest bands in the world, and stay there for several decades, without doing incessant homework, groundwork and legwork. The part where you walk out into the spotlights of a stadium full of delirious fans is just the tip of the iceberg. JB approached his calling with deadly seriousness, and there’s a moment when he gets tearful about how he vowed to his comrades that his commitment to the job was unswerving and he’d never let anybody down (pictured above, the original Bon Jovi lineup).

Famed for his fabulous blow-dried mane of hair and teen-idol features, JB would sometimes be scorned as hairdresser-rock in his early days, perhaps seen as a flighty pop pinup who could never go the distance, but he has proved to be much more than that. Determined to transcend his blue-collar background in Sayreville, NJ, he put in the time with fledgling bands, and got a handy leg-up when his cousin Tony Bongiovi (the family’s real name) got him a job at Manhattan’s Power Station studios, which he co-owned. This allowed JB to rub shoulders with lots of real rock stars, like Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band or Aerosmith. A fluent songwriter from day one, Jon put the Bon Jovi band together in 1983, and had an album release and a Top 40 hit the following year.Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, Disney+They cracked it bigly with 1986’s Slippery When Wet. It was a 20-million seller which spawned the classic anthems "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin’ on a Prayer", the latter arguably the most singalongable song in pop music. Then JB nailed his name firmly over the door with New Jersey (complete with chart-toppers "Bad Medicine" and "I’ll Be There for You"). The band were huge, they toured the planet, they had a mutual love-in with MTV…

But once you get past those pivotal milestones, the going gets repetitive, and if they’d chopped an hour out of this I doubt anyone would have noticed. Sure, they kept turning out solid hits into the 21st century, with the likes of Bounce, Have a Nice Day and 2020, but “band makes another chart-topping album” starts to become meaningless. Jon’s bandmates get a fair chunk of coverage, though criticism of the bandleader is definitely not on the cards. These boys know which side their bread is buttered.

There’s some drama when we hear how guitarist and Jon’s co-songwriter Richie Sambora quit in 2013 – there’s a little bit of tut-tutting about how Sambora simply failed to turn up for a gig on the Because We Can tour – but naturally JB refused to let this hold him back, and promptly swapped in guitarist Phil X to fill Sambora’s shoes. And when JB starts going on about how he’s become “socially conscious” and that “our mission is trying to break the chains of poverty”, you know you’ve been sitting in front of that screen for too long.

If they’d chopped an hour out of this I doubt anyone would have noticed

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Average: 2 (1 vote)

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