Wham! is a documentary exploring the inception and colossal rise of the titular pop duo in the early 1980s. They rose to fame and became a phenomenon in the global music scene until they achieved everything they wanted to and split in 1986. It is now streaming on Netflix.
The narrative initially takes you back to 1975 when 12-year-old Andrew Ridgeley became friends with the new kid in school, George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou).
As teenagers, the two always wanted to be in a band and kickstarted Wham! in 1982. They went from recording tapes at home to getting an initial record deal that quickly catapulted them into mainstream musical success.
Wham! became a household name in Britain, and international triumph followed soon after. With songs like Club Tropicana, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Freedom, Last Christmas, and more, the pop duo became the first Western act to perform in communist China.
The documentary also explores Michael’s struggles with embracing his sexuality as their fame rose. Also, it celebrates his and Ridgeley’s bond, which kept them grounded and helped them draw the curtain on the band at the right time.
Post that, Michael grew into the solo mega-star that he was destined to become, and Ridgeley always knew they had to part ways to let his friend shine.
Wham! covers all the important aspects of the band’s trajectory from beginning to end without ever becoming too dramatic. The narrative is precise, engaging, and informative.
Michael’s and Ridgeley’s commentary adds a layer of immersion to the experience, as it feels like a personal retelling of events. Director Chris Smith makes sure to touch all bases in this 92-minute film, making sure nothing important in the band’s 4-year-long run is left out.
The plot follows their journey via scrapbooks that Ridgeley’s mom started making when they recorded their first-ever tape. This helps viewers keep track of the chronology of events. Furthermore, there is something joyous about witnessing the stories behind how their popular hits, like Careless Whisper, came into being.
We get to dive inside Michael’s mind as he struggled with fame as a closeted gay man, his coming out to Ridgeley, his restrictive family environment, and more.
The narrative also focuses on Ridgeley’s thoughts on Michael becoming a solo success as his songwriting and producing skills grew exponentially during their time together.
It is comforting to see that the two friends always knew the venture was going to be short-lived and made the most of it.
Despite its heartfelt nature and a thorough retelling of events, Wham! misses the opportunity to deeply explore the two performers in their days of immense success.
It touches upon certain personal issues but never truly dissects them. Instead, it chooses to focus majorly on the highs and brushes past the inner turmoils, the conflicts, and the lows.
Wham! celebrates the titular duo for their contribution to the 80s pop movement and emphasizes the power of friendship, understanding, and music. Multiple episodes might have allowed the film to explore the topic more profoundly, but it is still a must-watch.
Director: Chris Smith
Date Created: 2023-07-05 15:40