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Friday, March 15, 2024

David Foster: Off the Record 2019 * * 1/2 Stars


2019's David Foster: Off the Record is an overwhelming documentary that appears like an elongated checklist for the GOAT of record producers (that would David Foster of course). I mean for every moment of acknowledging Dave's startling greatness and distance-running success, there's more, almost two hours more. "Off the Record", well it feels like a celebration of life for British Columbia's favorite music exec even though he's still very much alive. Just ask Peter Cetera, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, and Quincy Jones amongst others. 

Distributed by Bell Media and directed by docu vet Barry Avrich (Beyond Famous, Woman Who Act), David Foster: Off the Record chronicles Foster's career through his childhood to his collaborations with Natalie Cole and Chicago to his personal life with his daughters to his composing of Broadway musicals. Avrich, well he gives "Off the Record" a glossy look, mounds of archive footage, and crisped, timeline editing that bounces from present-day to of yore fodder. I mean David Foster: Off the Record doesn't feel so much like a documentary as it does a highlight reel for Foster that might be shown at some awards banquet via a big screen projector. Hey, I'm not saying that's a bad thing but the conspicuousness is surely there.

So OK, watching "Off the Record" you wonder if it actually needed to be made. I mean everyone knows who David Foster is. Heck, the dude has won 14 Grammy Awards and has helped countless artists sell millions and millions of units. So why? Why? Is it to remind everyone that everything Foster touches pop music-wise turns to gold? Or that he's an absolute beast behind the recording studio booth? Or that he has a cocky air about him and likes to spew a few F-bombs (something people already have recognized)? Probably on all counts. Bottom line: David Foster: Off the Record is well-made, exhausting, and worthy of garnering your awareness as a viewer. But it's also a little self-serving, a little vanity-stricken, and attention-grabbing, things that an easy-listening, ditty legend like Foster didn't need to project in the first place. 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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