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Review: In 'Don't Stop Believin',' dreams come true

The venerable rock band Journey finds new life — and a new singer — in this pleasant documentary by Ramona S. Diaz.

March 07, 2013|By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
  • A scene from Ramona Diaz's "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey."
A scene from Ramona Diaz's "Don't Stop Believin':… (Handout )

The documentary "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" covers a recent — and most unlikely — chapter in the history of the venerable rock band Journey, which has had one of the longer and more unusual stories in rock music. (Call it a journey if you must.) Beginning as something of an instrumental fusion band in the early 1970s, its members later made a concerted effort to play more radio-friendly songs with vocals, eventually striking gold with singer Steve Perry and the now-iconic '80s tunes "Open Arms," "Separate Ways" and, of course, "Don't Stop Believin'."

When "Don't Stop Believin'" turned up in the finale of "The Sopranos" in 2007, it put the band back on the radar for many people — but the group was without a singer and at something of loose ends. An arduous search turned up no one who seemed right, until one night guitarist Neal Schon clicked on a YouTube link and watched a video of a Filipino cover band fronted by Arnel Pineda. This set in motion an unlikely story of both discovery and rebirth, as the band with Pineda found success as a touring group.

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" captures Pineda's wide-eyed response to his own unexpected fame, but it also shows the band itself responding to him, veteran musicians willing to go in unfamiliar directions. Directed by Ramona S. Diaz, the film leans a little too heavily on Pineda's wide-eyed disbelief at his sudden turn of fortune, leaving a feeling that it could dig deeper into the history and dynamics of the band. Yet Pineda's ebullience is infectious, and "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" is a pleasant story of dreams coming true.

"Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey." Not rated. Running time 1 hour, 45 minutes. At the Laemmle Noho 7.

mark.olsen@latimes.com

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