Beastie Boys Story review – Spike Jonze shows a different way to do a documentary

April 23, 2020 (Last updated: February 1, 2023)
Daniel Hart 0
Apple TV+, TV Reviews


Beastie Boys Story is a personal story, accounting a long journey from start to finish, with a warm intimacy behind it, portraying how they went from kids to an established hip hop group as part of a live documentary.

Apple TV+ documentary Beastie Boys Story will be released on the platform on April 24, 2020. 

When I saw the 2-hour duration for Beastie Boys Story I was expecting a long, drawn-out documentary with archival footage of how they came to be. But I was surprised — Beastie Boys Story does not even feel like a documentary. Little did I know that Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz toured, telling audiences their story with a well-timed presentation behind them. This is a great concept directed by longtime friend and collaborator Spike Jonze, finding a unique way to document the legends.

And you can tell the audience appreciates it — it’s a warm atmosphere that resonates on the screen, seeing two of their idols on stage reliving the birth of their hip hop group, making the odd joke and references to keep the energy going. This shouldn’t really work, a stage show presenting a documentary, but maybe this is the way forward for those who want to tell their story because it is much more exciting than watching the same documentary format that we’ve all become accustomed to. Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz do it in style, never tripping over each other and managing to keep on track in a 2-hour space. Yes, they’ve been collaborating for years, but it is impressive with the amount of information that they have to relay to the audience and in synchronization.

Apple TV+ made the right move acquiring this feature-length documentary — you can sense the nostalgia eking from the audience and due to its unique way, the fans will undoubtedly watch this live documentary more than once; it has longevity in the streaming libraries since it goes against the usual status quo. But unsurprisingly, Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz do not just discuss how they managed to get themselves in with hip hop and the like of Def Jam Recordings, or how they finally found their identity and the music they wanted to do after a period of selling their souls — Beastie Boys Story has moments that express regrets and accepting where they went wrong. Their stage presence comes with sincerity — you get the sense they needed to get some truths off their chest.

And Adam Yauch is ever-present in the live documentary even though he is not there on stage with his friends — Beastie Boys Story is almost a tribute to the man, who unfortunately lost his battle to cancer. The live documentary is touching for the audiences, but you can tell it is an emotional moment for Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz as well, who create a timely emotional statement regarding the man, hitting home how impactful it was to lose such an important friend in their lives.

Overall, Beastie Boys Story is a personal story, accounting as a long journey from start to finish, with a warm intimacy behind it, portraying how they went from kids to an established hip hop group. It combines 40 years of friendships and the live documentary concept is something that needs to happen more often.

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