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The Greatest Night in Pop does not become the greatest music documentary in recent times, even if the film makes up for what it lacks in insight with star power, petty egoes and fun anecdotes.

Is there an interesting story behind the all-night recording session of 1985 charity single We Are the World? Absolutely. Does that story really warrant a feature documentary? Not quite.

The Greatest Night in Pop is at its best in its first half hour, when singer Lionel Richie, producer Quincy Jones and music manager Ken Kragen are desperately scrambling to convene as much American talent as possible into the same studio, for one night only, to record the single.

Once the session starts, a handful of fun anecdotes keep the documentary afloat but the movie also settles in a predictable, often pedestian pace. I had expected more fireworks from the many egoes in the room, but when the biggest clash consists of Stevie Wonder insisting on a verse in Swahili, you just know the requiered drama is not there to elevate The Greatest Night of Pop to a higher level.

Nevertheless, the documentary remains perfectly watchable and entertaining throughout, with a mix of archive footage and jovial recent interviews with Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Bruce Springsteen and other eighties icons.

Still, for a film that's all about harmonizing voices, one voice is conspicably absent. Apart from the archives footage producer Quincy Jones - still alive and kicking at 90 - does not make an appearance, which robs The Greatest Night in Pop of the hindsight comments of arguably We Are the World's most important contributor.

release: 2024

director: Bao Nguyen

starring: Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen


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