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‘Popstar’ Has Plenty Of Hooks To Keep You Laughing (Movie Review)

PPS_Tsr1Sht3_RGB_0229_4SMWith three albums and success that ranges from internet fame to directorial work to starring roles in film and TV, The Lonely Island (the comedy trio consisting of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) have rightfully built up to this. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is essentially ‘Lonely Island: The Movie’, as it takes their talents as satirical/parody rappers and puts it to good use in this modern age ‘Spinal Tap’. Popstar may not become a comedy classic in the same vein and the subject being parodied is not exactly new territory being explored, but the film is consistently funny and happy to take plenty of jabs at the millennial music scene.

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Samberg stars as Conner4real, the former member of an obscene boy band known as The Style Boyz (made up of the other Lonely Island members), who decided to become a star on his own based on his popularity. The film is shot in mockumentary style and we follow Conner during a turbulent time in his life. Conner’s second album Connquest turns out to be a massive flop and we observe all the craziness that stems from his attempts to stay in the spotlight.

The storyline is fairly familiar as far as where the arc of Conner’s journey is going to take him, but that’s not all that important. This is a film that gets plenty out of featuring a wide variety of comedic actors and actual musicians saying and doing ridiculous things that properly mock the music industry. Obviously this is a film that consists of personalities pushed to heightened lengths for the purpose of comedy, but at the same time, you have to wonder just how closely some of the antics mirror what really happens.

Justin Bieber is a clear target, as far as who this film is taking digs at, but you can apply plenty of music artists to the list, let alone take great joy in seeing people such as Seal or Questlove willing have a lot of fun with being in a film like this. Some of the best laughs may actually come from Nas explaining how Conner4real’s music changed his life. While never quite as biting as it could be thanks to a conscious choice not to be mean-spirited, the jokes land at a very consistent level, while still doing well to keep you in the loop with all of the humor that only brushes up to being too inside baseball.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

There is also the music itself. As a fan of how The Lonely Island’s tracks (many of which became hits on Saturday Night Live) have the kind of production value that indicate a clear respect for the material they pay homage to, this film completely delivers as far as the soundtrack goes. The songs very much ride the line of being too dumb and borderline offensive, as well as completely funny and clever in what they are attempting to say.  Having guest artists featured on tracks that include Adam Levine and Akon, among others, certainly helps lend credence to what is being presented.

At just under 90 minutes, the film does a fine job of not overstaying its welcome. The jokes fly fast and furious and the nature of this kind of film means that not all of them will stick. Given how easy some of the targets are, that is not too much of a surprise, but I really only wish some of the shock humor was dialed down and there was more reliance on keeping up the wit.

Lonely Island

As far as performances go, The Lonely Island team is solid, especially if you are already a fan. For supporting characters, I will continue to go to bat for Tim Meadows and acknowledge how underappreciated I think he is. There is also a bit that spoofs TMZ, featuring a few key comedy actors that pretty much slayed me more than anything.

At this point it may just become me listing things that were funny and I don’t want to give everything away. What matters is how much consistent fun Popstar is. It may not be revolutionary, but it provided The Lonely Island a chance to really go for it with what they have so successfully done in smaller doses thus far. By way of both comedy and music, this trio has really found a way to never stop never stopping.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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