Netflix is currently filled with various sports documentaries after the success of The Last Dance and Drive to Survive. There is no dearth of passionate stories about athletes who are relentless in their pursuit of glory, and for whom their sport is their only high. Their successes and failures are to be noted because they help millions of viewers understand the hardships each one must go through to reach where they are.
Jumping on the bandwagon is YouTuber turned boxer Jake Paul, who received a lot of flak not just as a social media star but as a boxer who got into the ring out of his love for the game. The Untold documentary begins with the media branding him as ‘the problem child’ because his antics as a YouTube sensation led to a lot of difficulties for him and his family. His family included his brother and best friend, Logan Paul. The two had been inseparable for a long time and were playing most of the sports at school. They shared a loving bond that was visible throughout the film. Their fascination with YouTube began very early in their lives when the website had just launched, and it helped them garner enough attention through slapstick and physical comedy skits.
This was just the beginning of their popularity. Thanks to YouTube, these young kids from Ohio were getting all kinds of attention, which made them decide not to pursue college after school. Banking on this popularity, the brothers made two individual YouTube accounts and headed to Los Angeles in the hope of getting more work as brand collaborators. Things worked out as planned because plenty of collaboration work in the city landed Jake a role in a Disney show. The show was a massive success, and so was Jake. This stint with television couldn’t have come at a better time. Jake and Logan unfortunately slowly became rivals online, which led to plenty of back-and-forth of content on their social media channels dissing each other openly without regard to their relationship or their parents, who have been nothing but supportive of their work.
Jake especially had gone from being a superstar to a troublesome 23-year-old kid who had become too rich too quickly, and there was no end to his antics that led to legal troubles. The dramatic turn that the documentary took paved the way for Jake to finally make some concrete decisions about his life, or else he wouldn’t be able to salvage the identity he created.
Jake Paul turned out to be lucky because he and Logan were called out by two YouTube boxers from the UK, who challenged them to fight inside a boxing ring that would be publicized. This happened at a time when boxing’s popularity was going downhill, thanks to the UFC matches gaining momentum. The brothers took up the challenge, and there was no looking back, especially for Jake. He hired Nakisa Badarian as someone who could arrange for matches with potential boxers, and thus began his journey as a boxer and his willingness to take this profession seriously. The old guard of boxers never took Jake and his interest in the game seriously, as they looked at their sport with a certain sanctity and believed the boy was tarnishing it.
Jake Paul’s life as a boxer was not an easy task because the media constantly badgered him as “the problem child.” Thankfully, Jake had the support of an army of people, including his now-reconciled brother and parents. Jake reveals that he has a troubled relationship with his father, Greg Paul, due to his abusive nature. The relationship was now civil. The documentary takes the viewers through various matches Jake had with many boxers, coupled with him using his social media followers to garner attention and get people to talk about UFC fighters being underpaid, mistreated, and not having enough health insurance coverage provided, keeping in mind how much the game was putting strain on their body and mind. The documentary concludes with Jake having a titanic match with Tom Fury, followed by Anderson Silva. He lost the former match but won against Anderson Silva, who is considered a champion UFC fighter. The film ends on a high note because it paves the way for Jake to become better at this sport, and this win is just the beginning of his new phase in life, surrounded by the right kind of people.
Review: A needless documentary on a man-child celebrity
This brand-new Netflix Original documentary film about Jake Paul is directed by Andrew Renzi and released on the platform on August 1, 2023. This 82-minute-long film takes the viewers through the so-called ups and downs that Jake Paul went through as a YouTube sensation and an amateur boxer.
The life story of Jake Paul, as mentioned above, is as basic as any kid born and raised in America, especially in the early 2000s when the advent of YouTube led to many teenagers discovering a talent in them and showcasing it to the world in a video format. Jake and his brother Logan were among many who gained huge success, so much so that Jake was offered a role in a children’s television show. The amount of money they made as YouTubers led to them losing their sense of purpose. Jake’s life and many of his debacles, which have been known to many since he became a celebrity, form the crux of this documentary.
This film begins in the most self-aware manner, where the brothers speak about themselves and their issues in a rather honest fashion, making the viewers wonder if this film could be a truthful depiction of what transpired in their lives. Sadly, this feature quickly becomes a space where Jake, Logan, and their parents lay out the problems they have because of each other, giving it the sense of a therapy session. The screenplay and footage used in the documentary did not get the emotions part right because, in every transformational story, there needs to be conflict and catharsis, which were absent from this narrative. The boys were from a privileged background and had the luxury of giving up college ambitions and following their YouTube careers, which led to Jake becoming a boxer. There is no acknowledgement of the advantage Jake had because he had made enough money for himself through several brand collaborations and his work with Disney, which allowed him to hire high-profile trainers and publicists.
The absence of the above-mentioned makes the viewing experience infuriating because, after a point, it seems this documentary was only made for Jake Paul to garner relevant recognition that will make him the talk of the town. He mentions forming a union for the UFC fighters and his crusade against Dana White for not providing enough care to the combatants. We wish there was more to talk about Jake Paul than just putting together the entire film based on the information taken directly from the internet. The documentary is about a generation of kids who have access to millions of videos online. This documentary could have gone one step further and give the viewers information and showcase footage that they had not seen. The compilation of all the footage, seen and unseen, is what made The Last Dance one of the best sports documentaries ever. Sadly, this one does not come close to that.
The director and producers did not make an effort to give the viewers more information about Jake and Logan’s family dynamics other than their silly fights over social media and Jake’s tumultuous relationship with his father. There is hardly any discussion about mental health issues as well, keeping in mind how Jake speaks about being affected by nasty comments made about him on various social media channels. The lead-up to the climactic portion of his life story did not leave any lasting impression.
Untold: Jake Paul, the Problem Child could have been a lot longer, or the makers could have turned this into a miniseries to get an in-depth grasp of Jake’s journey. Unfortunately, this documentary film offers nothing but a perfect image of Jake Paul, who, by the looks of it, has not achieved any accolades, but there is a film about him already.