Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers, Nick, Kevin and Joe, reflect and discuss the details of what drove them apart.

Warning: This review contains spoilers about the documentary "Chasing Happiness"

When the Jonas Brothers split up in 2013, many people thought that was the last of them. Six years later, the brothers reunited in an unexpected comeback, but fans still had questions about what exactly caused the breakup. In the new Amazon Prime documentary, “Chasing Happiness,” the brothers reflect and discuss the details of what drove them apart.

“Chasing Happiness” is an invitation into the lives of the Jonas Brothers and an insight on how the boys got to where they are today. The brothers not only talk about their breakup and its aftermath, but they also open up about life before fame and how creating the band took a toll on their family. The openness and honesty of the brothers is what makes the film so raw and relatable all throughout.

Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas started playing music at a young age. Nick was six years old when he was offered to be on Broadway and was the first of the brothers to perform professionally. Joe eventually made his way in show business as well, while Kevin focused on doing commercials. It’s obvious that their talent was going to take them far in life.

At a young age, Nick wrote a song that caught the attention of Columbia Records, who then signed him as a solo artist. Joe and Kevin helped write music for Nick’s album, including “Please Be Mine.” The president of the record company heard the song and eventually signed all three brothers as a group.

The brothers grew up in a Christian household in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Their father was a pastor and a big name in the community. Their record deal caused controversy in the church, and people criticized the pastor for letting his kids sing secular music. Due to the backlash, their father was forced to resign, which caused stress on the family. This revelation in the documentary is the first time fans learn this much about the struggles in the brothers’ home life, which portrays them as real people who viewers can relate to, and not just celebrities.

Viewers see that fame wasn’t coming to the brothers as quickly as they thought. With their dad unemployed, the brothers became the family’s primary source of income, which put a lot of pressure on them at a young age. They’re seen performing multiple times a day and working hard to make a name for themselves.

The Jonas Brothers’ career skyrocketed after its music videos were played on MTV and Disney Channel and more people became aware of them. With newfound fame, the Jonas Brothers were on a high for a few years and toured all over the world. It wasn’t luck when it came to their success, but they were committed to working for what they wanted, which makes them admirable.

The band kept pushing and failed to take time to restrengthen its bond as brothers. This led to tension that eventually drove them apart. Kevin got married in 2009 and started a reality show with his wife, which his brothers wanted nothing to do with. The documentary reveals that Nick and Joe felt like Kevin held the band back musically and didn’t prioritize his career anymore. After learning that the brothers weren’t getting along, it makes sense that their issues lead to the breakup that rocked the music industry.

Although Nick was the one who initiated the breakup in 2013, viewers learn that he was also the one who suggested they reunite. Even after having solo success, Nick told his brothers he missed performing with them and wanted a second chance, but Joe claimed “there’s no way in hell” he’d ever share a stage with them again. Nick kept pushing his brothers to reconsider. This shows that his persistence was the kick the boys needed to set aside their differences and get back together. Their changes in attitude and willingness to reconnect is beautiful to see.

The brothers finally agreed that in order for it to work a second time around, they’d need to have open conversations and revisit their past so they don’t make the same mistakes. They agreed to focus on being brothers rather than just performers. The brothers do a good job with getting candid about their inner struggles which gives viewers the chance to understand them on a personal level.

“Chasing Happiness” gives an honest look at family, personal struggles and the importance of reflection. The film’s revelations lead up to their reunion and the release of their new album, “Happiness Begins.” It does a great job showing the Jonas Brothers as individuals who have a second chance to reconnect and make music together again.  

Contact Vanessa Nikolic at nikolivx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.