Critic Reviews



Based on 13 critic reviews provided by
A must-see for Pearl Jam fans - and for folks keen on gleaning insights into the pressures that come with megastardom.
What makes Pearl Jam Twenty a little better than the average fan-friendly documentary is that Crowe focuses on the more significant parts of the Pearl Jam story: not how the group wrote "Alive," but how it's struggled with maintaining artistic credibility while selling millions.
Even those more neutral about Pearl Jam will find it impossible not to enjoy director Cameron Crowe's driving retrospective of the band's stage-diving 20 years, at least on some level.
Cameron Crowe's feature documentary is among his most effective and deeply felt work.
Before viewers learn this venerable ensemble's story, much less see its members rock out on screen, they are subjected to Mr. Crowe's voice-over account of his own early discovery of the Seattle scene.
Slant Magazine
Wholly uninterested in puffing up his subjects into an iconic rock outfit on a par with their idols Led Zeppelin and the Who, Crowe instead merely tells their story free from the constraints of rise-fall-rise clichés.
The effort - by Vedder & Co., as well as Crowe - is heroic, if not quite persuasive. Legends aren't made of longevity alone, and while you wouldn't wish Kurt Cobain's pain on anyone, you can't help but feel this band survived well past its meaning.
At its best, Pearl Jam 20 makes a convincing argument that Nirvana wasn't the most iconic band to rise from the grunge scene. Ultimately, however, Crowe's fanboy treatment pushes it into a mosh pit of mediocrity.
Finding a pulse only in the band's late-reel performance of "Alive," a lusty passage that would've begun a pic intent on making a case for the group's greatness, "Twenty" simply counts the years from 1991 via sludgy backstage and onstage footage whose rarity can't forgive its inclusion. Crowe's critic mentor, the late Lester Bangs, would cringe.
Village Voice
Perhaps Pearl Jam's arc too closely resembles Crowe's own, and he can't see what's so uniquely poignant about dimmed but enduring stars.

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