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We all have holiday traditions that we look forward to each year. Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, eating turkey, playing football … all classic choices. Personally, I like to curl up after the big meal and watch one of my favorite go-to comfort films, “One Direction: This Is Us,” to remind myself what I’m truly thankful for. 

The documentary follows the five pop stars on their journey to stardom, starting with footage from their days on “The X Factor” all the way to their worldwide Take Me Home Tour. The film weaves concert footage performed at The O2 Arena in London with other content, offering viewers a sneak peek into a live One Direction concert. 

Whether it be the emotional attachment I have to the band, my memories of seeing the movie in theaters, the concerts I went to with my sister or a powerful combination of the three, this movie has the ability to bring me back in time like no other. I truly feel like I am 12 when I watch it. I’m immediately brought back to the days where I would sing in my kitchen to “What Makes You Beautiful” on loop while baking cupcakes. And it feels so good. 

There are many reasons I come back to this movie on Thanksgiving specifically. There’s just something special about reliving what has made you you and feeling grateful for it. I honestly don’t know what I would be like today if my whole teenage life hadn’t revolved around One Direction’s every move. Thanksgiving feels like the perfect day to reflect on that. 

Sadly, the film is often misunderstood. While critics argue that it offers little value for viewers who aren’t big One Direction fans, I say that that’s the point. “One Direction: This Is Us” is made for fans. It’s a digital time capsule that we can fall back on whenever we’re missing that part of our lives. This sounds extremely dramatic, and I am well aware, but I couldn’t be more serious. I don’t find it insulting when someone doesn’t want to watch it with me or vocally dislikes the movie; as a fan, I actually am glad to call it my own. 

Still, people find a way to hate on the movie for reasons besides not being a fan. Critics repeatedly comment on the way the members of the band are falsely portrayed as average guys who never drink, smoke or date around. Of course they do all of those things, but that’s not what the movie is about. Why must a documentary about a boy band created for tween girls center on the wild aspects of pop-star life? Just because we don’t see this side of their lives doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And I bet if it were shown, critics would have wanted the opposite. The film would have been deemed too inappropriate for its target audience, and the five members would have been judged for their behavior. 

I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how the narrative was built, “One Direction: This Is Us” never stood a chance with anyone besides fans of the boy band. So why not let it serve its purpose? There are millions of fans who are thankful for the documentary, and in my eyes, that’s a success. So please let us enjoy it, especially now. Everyone deserves to relish in their holiday traditions. 

Daily Arts Writer Laura Millar can be reached at