Doug Reviews: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

With Popstar, spoof music group The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone) do what they do best and mix comedy with music in a mockumentary format. However, is Popstar a good movie, or a comedy sketch stretched too far?

Meet Conner4Real (Samberg), a vapid popstar who was once a member of the boy band The Style Boyz, a cross between N*Sync and the Beastie Boys. One of the members, Owen (Taccone), still collaborates with Conner as his tour DJ, but the other, Lawrence (Schaffer), refuses to have anything to do with Conner after a falling out the two had a few years previously. Conner is about to release his second solo album and launch a world tour. However, when his album isn’t received as the masterpiece he thinks it is, his world begins to spiral out of control.

Popstar is a very funny movie, but a lot of the humor comes from a crass place, so if that kind of humor isn’t your thing, you probably won’t enjoy this movie very much. However, if you give up on the film due to its crassness, you’ll miss a great skewering of the music business. Popstar revels in the Twilight Zone world of a touring musician and the record industry in general. Being that the film is a mockumentary, there are some amazingly funny cameos from real-life musicians. Then there are the members of Conner’s entourage including his publicist, Paula (Sarah Silverman), and his manager, Harry (Tim Meadows), who each have their own hilarious moments and histories. Nothing really compares, though, to Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd), who is essentially a stand-in here for Kanye West. He’s crazy and hilarious, especially when a question arises about his possible involvement in Conner’s greatest embarrassment. The songs that The Lonely Island have crafted for the film are also very funny. They hearken back to the digital shorts Samberg and his cohorts produced for Saturday Night Live and that is one of the issues I had with the film. At times, it does feel like an SNL sketch that has gone on too long. Also, maybe it’s from watching my fair share of Behind the Music episodes, but the story built around the mockumentary is completely predictable. I’m not saying I was expecting a well-written story with this one, but a few unexpected curves would have been appreciated.

The cast does a decent job throughout. Samberg is very funny as the dense and oblivious Conner, but I will say that really stupid characters can grate on my nerves and Conner comes real close throughout the movie. Taccone and Schaffer do a good job, but it’s clear that Samberg is the front man here, while Taccone and Schaffer do their best work behind the scenes – they are co-directors and writers on Popstar. I really liked Tim Meadows’ character here as the beleaguered manager, but his funniest scene comes when he relates his past brush with fame. For me, though, Chris Redd steals all his scenes as Hunter. He was just so funny and perfectly realized – just a hilarious addition to an already funny movie.

Overall, if you like crass humor and want to see the music industry taken down a few pegs, Popstar is the film for you. The conceit may wear thin after a while, but The Lonely Island brings the jokes fast and furious, making it one of the funniest movies of the year.

 

Rating: B

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