The Jonas Brothers Air Their Dirty Laundry in Eye-Opening Documentary: ‘I Felt Betrayed’
The new Amazon doc ‘Chasing Happiness’ traces the breakup and reunion of the Jonas Brothers—including the fights, backstabbing, and how finding love brought them back together.
“Hey brothers, you want to do something awesome again together?” Kevin Jonas offers in the new Jonas Brothers documentary Chasing Happiness. The beloved pop-rock band is officially back for the first time in 10 years, and so far it feels like the “Year 3000”—they’ve garnered their first No .1 song in March with “Sucker,” and on Friday they’ll finally drop their long-awaited new album Happiness Begins.
Chasing Happiness, which chronicles the rise, breakup and reunion of the Jonas Brothers, paints their comeback as a true homecoming. Nick, Joe and Kevin are all surprisingly open about the struggles of working together. “We felt you were holding us back. That’s the truth,” Joe tells Kevin about why he and Nick continued performing together immediately following their failed 2013 reunion.
They recall spending nearly a decade apart. “I get asked if I’m Joe or Nick everyday...No, I’m Kevin,” the other brother says of his suburban New Jersey life, as depicted on the E! reality show Married to Jonas. Unsurprisingly, Nick and Joe weren’t fans of the program. “We didn’t like the idea the reality show could dictate who we were, and to watch it every Sunday was not fun for us,” Joe says.
Much airtime is expectedly devoted to why they finally got back together. “I really want a second chance with them so that I can enjoy every moment with my brothers, and I can smile more,” Nick says.
But a documentary produced by their manager Phil McIntyre aiming to prove how miraculous it is that the brothers are still family-first against all odds curiously forgets a crucial member of the crew: Where the hell is Bonus Jonas?
Frankie Jonas, 18, is the other-other brother. Though he’s given a testimonial interview, Frankie appears just once as the end credits roll. He’s relegated to a single quote: “I’m their number one fan. I know every lyric of every song. I can recite every story of how they were made. I love them so much.” It makes for an odd ending—one that paints him as an afterthought and raises the question of authenticity in a documentary that works largely because of “truthful” revelations.
Born in 2000, when Nick and Joe were first starting out as Broadway child actors, Frankie was only seven when they broke out by way of “Year 3000” and their self-titled second album. He eventually became a recurring character on their short-lived Disney Channel series Jonas and appeared in their film Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, as well as Married to Jonas.
The case could be made that he never factored into the band’s musical success the way their parents Denise and Kevin Sr. did. But the appeal of the Jonas Brothers has always been that they’re more than just their music—they’re a family that also happens to be a widely successful band. It’s hard to deny that the success of “Sucker” isn’t partly hinged on its fun music video, featuring their wives Daniella Jones, Sophie Turner and Priyanka Chopra satirizing British high society.
In Chasing Happiness, the spouses are even credited as the reason for their return. “It took me time to understand having someone in my life that...I’ll do fucking anything to see Sophie for an hour,” Joe explains as part of his apology to Kevin for not understanding why his brother would want a life beyond music. As wedding videos of his lavish nuptials to Chopra play, Nick says, “Endless love has changed my life forever.”
It might be cheesy and oversentimental to think that their love lives truly brought them back together more than a hungry fan base ready for a reunion and middling side projects, but it feels truthful. Sophie and Joe’s recent Las Vegas wedding was undeniably adorable, and the documentary features a heartwarming clip of Nick and Joe guiding Kevin as he invites Danielle out before their relationship blossomed.
It’s not like the family doesn’t give a shit about Frankie. He graduated from Nashville’s esteemed Blackbird Academy sound-engineering school in March. Both Chopra (sans Nick) and Joe accompanied the Jonas parents to his ceremony. “The man of the hour!! @franklinjonas we r so proud of u.. “Graduate” ! Can’t wait to witness what else u will accomplish in your life. To bigger and greater heights! Love u❤️ @theblackbirdacademy,” Chopra captioned her Instagram post.
Joe meanwhile went straight older-brother, writing, “Words cannot describe how proud I am of this guy right here. @franklinjonas has graduated from @theblackbirdacademy watch out world! I’m not crying you are crying!”
So why, then, couldn’t they touch on the drama of what it’s like to have a band called the “Jonas Brothers” and not ever acknowledge, hey, we have a fourth brother? It’s not like they’re not afraid to dig up dirt. Joe and Nick willingly go to bat against Disney.
“Biggest regret in regards to the Brothers: season two of Jonas. That’s a big regret,” Nick tells his brothers while playing a game of personal questions. He credited it as “a bad move” at a time when the band was trying to move on from their squeaky-clean, preacher’s-son persona. “Literally, we couldn’t evolve because of it.”
The Jonas Brothers became Disney-star parodies at the same time that their contemporary, Miley Cyrus, entered her Can’t be Tamed era. (In the documentary, Nick Jonas says of dating Cyrus in 2006, ”I started writing about love, and I actually knew what it felt like.”) South Park famously lampooned them as a cookie-cutter Disney product selling sex to kids through their admission of wearing purity rings. “I mean, they weren’t far off, that’s for sure,” cracks Joe.
The brothers aren’t even afraid to publicly go after each other. According to the film, the band broke up because Nick sat Joe and Kevin down and told them the Jonas Brothers were done. “I felt betrayed. I felt lied to. I felt angry. Numb,” Joe recalls. Kevin claims Joe then went on to tell Nick, “I have nothing to say to you.”
Aside from childhood videos and broadcast clips, the documentary explores a trip the three took to Sydney, Australia, in June 2018. Joe was already there as a judge on Australia’s The Voice, while Kevin and Nick joined him. “It’d been nearly six years since we had spent time together, just the three of us as brothers,” Kevin recalls. It kicked off what is largely a convincing documentary, cashing in the brothers’ deep bond and relatable New Jersey roots. But families all have baggage even they don’t want to address. And, man, what must it be like to be Frankie?