Sunday, June 5

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Dir: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Toccone
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Toccone, Akiva Schaffer, Imogen Potts, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, and Tim Meadows
86 Minutes
Universal Pictures

There is an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music”, a 90’s documentary television, where rapper Vanilla Ice is seen defending the structure of his hit “Ice Ice Baby” against a copyright infringement case for sounding nearly identical to “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie. The moment is so utterly ridiculous you can’t help but wonder what the rapper was thinking. “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a hilarious mockumentary orchestrated by the Saturday Night Live crew of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Toccone, alternatively known as the comic hip-hop group The Lonely Island.

Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) is a pop superstar, an icon admired by the likes of Ringo Starr, Usher, Nas, and Carrie Underwood. Conner was formerly a member of a beloved rap group The Style Boyz with his two best friends Owen (Jorma Toccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer). Conner left the group, bringing Owen along as his DJ and abandoning Lawrence who retreated to the middle of nowhere to be a farmer. Conner’s team of personal assistants and brand marketers are making a documentary that begins days before the release of his new album, which ultimately fails and starts a downward media spiral for Conner.

If you are a fan of The Lonely Island albums or skits from SNL, this film will keep you smiling and laughing the entire time. The brand of comedy here is a mix of goofball situational humor and raunchy/politically incorrect song compositions. The team here clearly understands their brand and commit to it one hundred percent, even when the joke seems to have run far past its course the team pushes even further until the joke becomes so overdone you’ll either wonder why you are still watching or laugh at the complete commitment to the comedic form they have crafted.

One of the aspects that keep everything interesting is the outrageous amount of guest cameos in the film. There is a plethora or musical genre talent throughout, a scene from the trailer featuring R&B singer Seal is one of the many amusing moments however there are other scenes featuring very well-known artists and actors playing roles in Conner’s world of fame and fortune. SNL alum Tim Meadows makes a regular appearance along with stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman, both play members of Conner’s crew. One of the best character moments is the complete skewering of a particular entertainment television show; scenes like this one are when the film really shines. 

The narrative is nothing special because everything it portrays we see daily on entertainment websites and newsfeeds, some pop culture figure makes a fool of themselves and before you can blink the video or comment has gone viral. Think of any news report you’ve seen Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, or Kanye West take a headline in. This aspect of the script becomes particularly noticeable in the third act of the film when all the loose ends need to be taken care of. It almost ruins everything the film successfully established in the beginning.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is an often times hilarious take on stardom and fame, especially the excessive and manipulative aspects. While it may not satisfy every comedic taste, The Lonely Island team should get some credit. These are funny guys individually but as a team they not only make music that hits all the guilty pleasure notes that compose good pop music but it also does it with a firm grasp on comedic elements. Making comedic music is always hit or miss, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is more hit than miss.

Monte’s Rating

3.50 out of 5.00

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