- on Friday, 03 June 2016 16:04
- by Frank Wilkins
Nothing is sacred and no one is off limits to the jabs taken in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a mockumentary-style send up to the extravagance of modern pop stars and the hollow music documentaries that seem all the rage these days.
Even The Lonely Island (SNL’s Andy Samberg, Jorma Tacone, and Akiva Schaffer) comedy trio behind the film takes a self-inflicted blow to the chin as the film shines an unintentionally ironic light on the fact that only one member of the comedic trio has achieved stardom – a concept the film spends its entire 90 minutes mocking, only their jabs are taken at pop music stars instead of themselves. It’s difficult to believe that writers Samberg and Schaffer intended that little bit of self-aware irony, but the film just doesn’t seem that smart. In fact, most of the humor is picked from low-hanging fruit – crazy stuff in the entertainment world we’ve been disgusted by and laughing at for years now. It isn’t the finely-tuned, deep-hitting mockumentary it hopes to be.
The movie follows a faux-documentary crew as it documents – with a host of celebrity cameo appearances from such luminaries as Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Seal and others – the life of pop sensation Conner4Real (Andy Samberg), one of the founding members of the sensational boy band Style Boyz, an NSYNC knock-off. As is almost always the case in the music biz, creative differences and conflicting leadership styles lead to the demise of the band, but Conner goes on to become bigger than the Biebs himself, while his partner Owen (Jorma Taccone) is relegated to DJ status in the band – which actually entails plugging in an iPod, and other band member Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) has dropped off the grid to farm the Colorado land and carve wooden sculptures.
Conner is riding a huge wave of success following the release of his first solo album called Thriller, Also. But due to a trail of self-generated obstacles preceding the release of his sophomore effort, things begin to spin out of control. First of all, the album credits over 100 different producers who contribute to a total of 17 tracks. Secondly, Conner writes all his own songs this time around, and finally, as a unique promotion, all the album’s songs have been downloaded to every household appliance in America and will play when consumers turn them on – a not-so-thinly-veiled nod to the U2 iTunes debacle of its Songs of Innocence release.
You can guess where things go from here: the album tanks, the band begins to incorporate a whole host of gimmicks and gags to help sales, but none work. Conner’s self-destruction begins as his world of over-the-top opulence spins out of control.
One of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’s crippling oversights comes from its failure to do anything different from The Lonely Island videos and SNL Digital Shorts we’ve come to know through the years. Yes, those were funny. Hilarious, in fact. And many, like D*** in a Box and I’m on a Boat, went on to become major viral hits and pop culture sensations. But that was a decade ago and none of the songs in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping are catchy or clever and certainly don’t strike the same artistic chords.
Another shortcoming is Samberg’s believability factor. Yes, the riffs on the music industry mostly strike blistering blows, but Samberg’s Conner simply isn’t believable… even in a mockumentary format. As much of a clown as Justin Bieber is in real life, the fact that he connects with such a huge audience can’t be denied. Samberg doesn't feel real and never quite pulls off the mega-popstar persona. Rather than a crooner, he’s a croaker.
It’s risky business – not to mention extremely difficult – to pull off a film like this. In fact, no one does it quite like Christopher Guest. The comedic tones must hit a perfect note and the inside jokes need to offer undiscovered insight into the music world. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping does neither. As a result. rather than a perfectly-pitched B note, it’s a shrieking J-sharp. Even the autotune won’t help this one.
MPAA Rating: R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use
Runtime: 86 mins
Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Writer: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer
Cast: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer
Genre: Music | Comedy
Tagline: Never Stop Never Stopping
Memorable Movie Quote: "The Arena is Our Bedroom"
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.popstarmovie.com/
Release Date: June 3, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: The latest comedy from blockbuster producer Judd Apatow (Trainwreck, Superbad, Knocked Up) co-stars Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows and Maya Rudolph and many of the biggest names in comedy and music in cameo performances. Co-directed by Schaffer and Taccone and written by The Lonely Island trio, Popstar is also produced by Rodney Rothman (producer of Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall; co-writer of 22 Jump Street), as well as Samberg, Schaffer and Taccone.
No details available.