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Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
06.03.2016
8 10
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PLOT: The rise and fall of egotistical pop star Conner4real (Andy Samberg), who hits the big-time after leaving his boy band, The Style Boyz, but soon faces a massive downturn in his career after an ill-conceived album and tour.

REVIEW: POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING is being billed as the first movie from SNL Digital Short favorites, The Lonely Island (Samberg and co-stars/co-writers/directors Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone) but really their 2007 cult-hit, HOT ROD, was basically a Lonely Island movie as well. In the years since, co-directors Schaffer and Taccone have both gone on to solo projects, including THE WATCH and MACGRUBER, while Samberg himself recently earned raves with his HBO mockumentary 7 DAYS IN HELL. Clearly, the guys are on a roll, and POPSTAR is an attempt by them to expand their brand to feature films, and the result is a movie that deserves to be a major comedy sleeper.

popstar andy samberg

Unapologetically foul, POPSTAR is like THIS IS SPINAL TAP for millennials, and while that may not sound too appealing, over its eighty-seven minute running time The Lonely Island guys have packed-in more laughs than any movie in recent memory. Significantly, the film also emerges as a surprisingly knowing and occasionally scathing take-down of the state of the music industry, with Conner4real no more ridiculous than some of the biggest stars in the biz.

Some will see this as a big-screen slap at Justin Bieber, with many elements, including a sycophantic entourage and over-produced sound, finding their way into the character. Justin Timberlake also seems to be something of an influence, albeit a very willing one with him showing up for an extended cameo as Conner’s eager-to-please cook. Parts of this also seem like a dig at Robin Thicke, with Conner’s disastrous second album seeming like not-too-distant a cousin of the ill-advised ‘Paula’ concept album, which sent his career into a tailspin, and Conner’s ego is straight-up Kanye West.

POPSTAR will probably play best among those with an interest in current pop music, although it’s not a prerequisite at all, any more than a knowledge of professional tennis was to enjoy 7 DAYS IN HELL. Samberg’s been on the cusp of comedy super-stardom for a long time, and certainly he seems like a worthy candidate. He puts his all into the film, and his style is wholly original, which can also be said of his cohorts Schaffer and Taccone.

While they’ve mostly worked off-camera in Samberg’s films so far, here they’re elevated to full co-star mode, as in their viral videos. Both play Conner’s former boy-bandmates, with Schaffer’s Lawrence having quit the biz after Conner stole his (horrible) lyrics, while Taccone’s eager-to-please Owen has settled-in to being his DJ, with him basically hitting play on a (hilariously out-of-date) iPod during shows.

popstar andy samberg

This in itself is a sharp dig at the performance standards in pop music, with Taccone’s Owen not even being trusted to properly mix music on-stage, as everything is so over-produced it has to be played just-so. While the songs are ridiculous (and hilarious) many of them don’t sound that far-off from what acts like Bieber and Thicke are putting out, including the opening song “Humble” and an anthem that hides its massive homophobia under the pretense of being about gay rights. As Conner’s career starts to hit the skids, out come the gimmicks, including a hideous elaborate Daft Punk-esque helmet for the hapless Owen.

Still, as much as they mock the industry, The Lonely Island boys also seem to have a lot of affection for those in it, with most of the biggest names, including Pharrell, Adam Levine, DJ Khaled, Questlove, Danger Mouse, Nas and the always-game Timberlake showing-up to poke fun at themselves. Heck, even Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney get in on the action. Outside of the Lonely Island boys, the cast is uniformly great, with Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack (as Conner’s coke-addled mom), Sarah Silverman and the great Tim Meadows (as Conner’s manager) having tons of good material. Will Arnett also has a juicy bit where he does a dead-on Harvey Levin/TMZ impression, while Imogen Poots is funny as Connor’s Kardashian-esque girlfriend.

If POPSTAR has any issues at all, it’s that the movie is so funny at times that when the pace dips just a tad (which happens a bit around the time Conner’s career hits the skids) it becomes more noticeable than it would have otherwise, as the laughs were fast and furious up to that point. Still, most of the film is absolutely hilarious and it’s very unlikely anything will come along this summer that will outdo it as far as laughs go. Hopefully The Lonely Island’s viral popularity will transfer over to the big screen, as this one is worthy of being a major hit.

Source: JoBlo.com

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