Frank Coraci's Here Comes the Boom (DVD Review)
Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:
Here Comes the Boom (2012)
Within a few seconds of starting “Here Comes the Boom,” you’ll see the words “Happy Madison” pop up on the screen, indicating that what you are about to see will not be a pleasant experience. The production company has been behind such films as “That’s My Boy,” “Grown Ups,” “Jack and Jill,” “Zookeeper,” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” (the list actually goes on, but that should suffice), so there’s no reason to believe that this film will be any better, and indeed, it’s a good idea to set the bar very low. However, given their track record, even that tends not to help very much. It certainly didn’t here.
The film tells the story of a biology teacher, Scott Voss (Kevin James), whose school is undergoing drastic budget cuts, including the elimination of the music program. The music teacher, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), is devastated, especially since he’s recently found out that he and his wife will be having another baby. Scott decides to help fund the music program himself, starting with another teaching job helping potential American citizens pass their citizenship test, but it doesn’t cut it.
However, when he agrees to teach one of the students after class, Niko (Bas Rutten), Scott discovers that he used to be an MMA fighter and that there’s a lot of money to be made doing just that. This gives him the bright idea of trying his hand at it, and strangely enough, he eventually ends up being pretty good at it, so much so that he gets a shot at the big time (i.e. the UFC) where he has a chance to earn the money needed to save his school’s music program.
I know, I know. That synopsis sounds like a bad hybrid of “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and one of the “Rocky” films, but that’s apparently what the writers, Kevin James and Allan Loeb, thought would pass for entertainment. At the very least, they could have been more apt with the title by calling it “Here Come the Clichés.” Somebody has to raise a lot of money quickly with the odds of them doing it being heavily against them? It doesn’t get much more clichéd than that.
Apparently nobody bothered to explain to them the difference between a believable storyline and an unbelievable one. Believable: In the outstanding “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” when the school needs to make money to save the music program, they put on a Gershwin review and sell tickets. Unbelievable: In “Here Comes the Boom,” when a lot of money is needed to save the school’s music program, a fat, out of shape, 40-something-year-old teacher decides to become a MMA fighter and somehow manages to defeat several opponents.
So, not only do you have to put up with all of the clichés, but you are also forced to ask yourself throughout the movie “in what alternate universe is this taking place?” This is particularly prevalent when an incredibly random, last-minute plot twist forces Scott to have to win his final bout with a professional UFC fighter. Let’s just say an extreme suspension of disbelief is needed from the moment you realize that the film is going to force its main character to do something that would never happen.
As far as the film’s level of humor goes, I was surprised that it managed to stay almost entirely above the Sandler level. In fact, the only gross-out joke I can recall them going for is when Scott vomits on an opponent he’s just defeated. Other than that, there’s nothing particularly low-brow about the humor. However, that being said, the film is just not funny. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s tedious, overly-long, and dull as it tries to squeeze in subplots that have no bearing on the main story whatsoever, such as a “love interest” of Scott’s (Salma Hayek) and Niko trying to pass his citizenship test.
Basically, what you get with “Here Comes the Boom” is a completely unbelievable story that is based on a foundation that doesn’t contain the least bit of originality. Kevin James, Salma Hayek, and Henry Winkler are likeable enough leads, but this material just falls flat very early on. As to why anyone thought that this would make an entertaining and engaging film is anyone’s guess.
Turning to the technical specs of the DVD, the film is presented in a 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer that is pretty good quality for a DVD. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is very lucid, allowing for all the sounds to come through quite well. The movie may not have been up to snuff, but it received great treatment in these departments nonetheless.
As far as special features go, you only get deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a cast featurette. There are several minutes of deleted scenes, so if you somehow ended up liking the film, you might enjoy seeing the various parts that were cut out. The cast featurette is one of those extremely superficial looks at the film featuring interviews with the cast saying how great it was to work with each other. Sadly, you don’t get to learn anything about the actual making of the film. The best of these three extras ends up being the gag reel, which was funnier than anything in the film.
It should be perfectly clear by now that this is not a recommendable DVD. Not only is the film not worth your time, but it also doesn’t have any special features that tell you anything about how the film was made or even how this absurd idea came about. In the end, Happy Madison Productions’ record remains perfectly tarnished.
Special Features: 4/10
Overall Score: 4/10