Movie Review: Cameron Crowe, Pearl Jam Twenty


I have to admit, I slept on Pearl Jam for a long time; in fact, I just woke up from my twenty year slumber. Some people tend to say that it’s better late than never, and in the case of Pearl Jam’s music, I definitely agree. My buddy Steve is one of the biggest Pearl Jam enthusiasts I know, and after hearing about his experience at the Alpine Valley leg of the PJ20 tour, I had to find out what he was so passionate about. The first time I listened to Ten from front to back, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; I felt like Ten was the equivalent of Tommy, just twenty-two years later. I just watched PJ20 for the first time on the fourth of July; I was absolutely blown away by Cameron Crowe‘s attention to detail and his desire to tell Pearl Jam’s fascinating story through incredible concert footage and exclusive interviews.

The live concert footage on this film is incredible; there are live performances scattered throughout the entirety of the documentary, and Crowe makes sure to include footage from every major in Pearl Jam’s career. There are a couple of clips in particular that sent shivers down my spine.

The first is a segment where Eddie Vedder is talking about his father passing away before he got to know him; this is one of the most emotional and beautiful candid moments ever caught on film, and the performance of “Release” is truly remarkable.

Another clip that made a huge impact on me is a live performance of “Better Man”. As Eddie is warming up, it seems as though things are going to go as they normally do, but the crowd ends up singing the opening lines by themselves; it’s so powerful to hear so many people coming together to perform something so beautiful.

Eddie has a quote that sums everything up perfectly:

“…There’s a communal exchange, and there’s obviously a line drawn between who’s on the stage and who’s in the crowd, but not really”

Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ahment, Stone Gossard, Matt Cameron and Mike McCready have performed together as one of the world’s most electrifying and beloved bands for twenty years, and there’s a good chance that they’ll be together for another twenty years. From the humble beginnings and heartfelt tragedies of Mother Love Bone, to the trials and tribulations of Pearl Jam, PJ20 covers every aspect in great detail. This documentary is perfect for hardcore Pearl Jam fans and those who are just being introduced to the band; Cameron Crowe did an outstanding job of making it so easy to fall in love with Pearl Jam.

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