Monday, June 6, 2016

Quick Movie Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)





You'd think the mockumentary genre was played out by now. If you asked me before I watched this movie, I'd probably think so too. But the humor that the boys of the Lonely Island have concocted is not only completely fresh and well thought-out, but will prove to be ahead of its time some day.

One-third of the comedy team, Andy Samberg, stars as Connor4Real--a Justin Bieber-esque pop icon--who's former hip-hop group broke up when he decided to start his solo career. Experiencing the downward slope of his fame and his slow decline to "has-been" status, his ego is too big to realize or admit it.

Along the way, we get documentary-style interviews from real-life "contemporaries"--such as Usher and Mariah Carey--who give commentary on Connor's career.

The movie is filled with at least a half-dozen songs, which are all catchy enough to be on the radio. But upon further attentiveness to the lyrics, they're laden with totally crude and offensive--yet hilarious--content.

So many jokes are completely off-kilter and have no ounce of necessity, but we're glad they happen. The humor, both subtle and broad, showcases the comedy trio's range. They use the Seth MacFarlane rapid-fire approach, but in a way where the jokes are much more uniform and cohesive. And if one doesn't work--or merely goes over the audience's head--there's another right around the corner to make us laugh and forget about it.

It finds a nice balance between antics and story. But the Lonely Island have made their brand by successfully fusing political incorrectness, awkwardness and silliness. And the trio has taken it to the next level here. They have such a tight grasp on not only what's funny, but what's topical and realistic--making everything that happens in this movie feel like it could actually happen--or is actually happening. It's a great feeling to completely trust your filmmakers.

The movie is directed by, and featuring, the other two members of the Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Together, with Samberg, the three of them have established such perfect chemistry over the years, that they probably don't care if you're not laughing at all because it's obvious they believe in their work and make themselves laugh, all while having a great time doing so.

The humor may seem very easy to think up, but is in fact, pretty inventive. Some jokes may prove to be a bit more esoteric for those not in the industry, but there are plenty that aren't.

Usually a lack of laughter comes from something not being funny. But there's an ode of confidence exuding from this film that you feel like, if you're not laughing, you just don't get the joke.

Ever so slyly, the movie's main theme is a mockery of the self-absorption and self-aggrandizing of today's media and society--especially within the millennial generation. But it's never preachy. In fact, for those most caught up with what's hip, the jokes may not come of as jokes at all.

Samberg has so much conviction in his role. It seems as if he truly believes every naive thing that he says and does. His character is so over-the-top, but Samberg makes him so real that it's never over-exaggerated.

While a tad predictable, that's not the point. Popstar never tries to be any other film. So many times have we seen American comedies give their best shot at shamefully replicating--or reinventing--a Judd Apatow/Adam McKay/Todd Phillips/Seth Rogen style of comedy, and lose their own vision. But these guys take their own vision and have their way with it. Samberg and the Lonely Island have influenced comedy a lot in the past decade or so. And now they're changing the rules all over again.

Twizard Rating: 93

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