Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Movie Review #435: "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" (2016)

Movie"Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping"
Director: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
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Mega star Conner (Andy Samberg) is filming a documentary in preparation for the release of his new album and his upcoming tour. When things don't go as expected, Conner is forced to reexamine his life and who he surrounds himself with, all while trying to remain relevant in the public eye. He also must come to figure out where things went wrong with his previous group, The Style Boyz. 

Directed by Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, and written by the two of them along with their The Lonely Island co-star Andy Samberg, "Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping" is a mockumentary in the tradition of "This is Spinal Tap." It follows the life and career of Conner, aka Conner4Real played by Andy Samberg. Conner4Real's first solo album set cultural and musical benchmarks and was a massive financial and critical success. Hoping to recapture that same glory, his second solo album, entitled "Connquest," is a highly anticipated record and has huge hype surrounding its release. Conner used to be in a group known as The Style Boyz with his childhood friends Owen, played by Taccone, and Lawrence, played by Schaffer. The group ultimately broke apart when Conner overshadowed his band mates in the limelight, turning him into the self-centered, egotistical dick who now surrounds himself with "yes" men. Only Owen has stuck around and has since been relegated to being Conner's DJ, while Conner and Lawrence had a falling out over a writers credit. When "Connquest" releases and is dead on arrival, he must find a way to maintain his relevance and beef up his act, all while preventing a melt down in the public eye.

"Popstar" pokes a lot of fun at the music industry in general with an astounding truth to it all. It touches on many topical controversies that have happened in the industry throughout the years. You can see a few notable stars are represented in the character of Conner as he shares traits with the likes of Justin Bieber, Macklemore, Kanye West, and many more. If you thought "Zoolander 2" was loaded with cameos, this film has just as many if not more. Unlike "Zoolander 2," however, the celebrity and musical cameos go far beyond name-dropping and are almost always centered around self-deprecation that shows those involved have a sense of humor about themselves and the industry. Mariah Carey talking about being humble? GENIUS. The dialogue here is very crass and at times a little juvenile, but there is a real underlying wit to much of the humor that works so well, we can forgive its petty, childish context. If you've been longtime readers of our reviews, you'll know we hate lazy dick jokes. Just putting genitalia on the screen for the sake of showing genitalia isn't in itself funny. "Popstar" manages to include a very long (no pun intended) dick joke that actually hits its intended mark. We were crying it was executed so perfectly. It knows it's being childish, it knows it's being silly, is knows it's being mocking, and it knows it's being stupid, but that's the point! There are many instances where we found ourselves laughing way too hard, and both BigJ and I have quoted lines from the film as well as lyrics to the songs several times since we left the theater. This feels like one of those movies that will get better and better over time, and people don't even realize they've missed a real comedy gem.

One of the best parts about "Popstar" is its original music. The Lonely Island is known for their SNL Digital Shorts, complete with music such as "Dick in a Box" and "I'm On A Boat." All of these songs are performed are written by The Lonely Island, which is comprised of Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer. Those familiar with their music will certainly love the hilarious songs they offer up in this movie. From the minute the opening tune starts, you know you're in for a musical treat ripe with hilarious lyrics and infectious beats. The songs are laugh out loud funny and cover a range of topics like marriage equality, current events, personal relationships, popular art, and even Osama Bin Laden, a song which made us laugh tears. The soundtrack alone is worth owning or downloading, even if you don't see the film.

The bottom line is, "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" consistently brings the raucous laughs from start to finish. Its crafty, pertinent commentary on today's music and society is spot on, even when told in its embellished, over-the-top way. The film uses the R rating and celebrity cameos to its advantage, taking its basic plot and turning it into something that is so crude, so referential, and yet so smart, we enjoyed every minute of it. As a result, The Lonely Island guys have made one of the funniest, sharpest comedies of the year, one that made us laugh consistently, and really, that's all you can ask for in a comedy. It's truly disheartening this movie isn't making the money it deserves. Go see this now!!

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~76%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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