A satire that is long overdue.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) is a comedy/musical mockumentary from the Lonely Island comedy trio. It stars Andy Samberg as Conner4real, a popstar who’s second solo album flops horribly, forcing him to do everything he can to maintain his celebrity status.
If you’ve seen the previous Lonely Island film Hot Rod (a personal guilty pleasure of mine) or anything else starring Mr Samberg, then you have a pretty good idea of what’s in store. Funny, weird, a bit shallow but very entertaining. The LPM (laughs per minute) in Popstar are as high as the characters themselves, and the writers milk every possible crazy idea out of this premise. From a song about how overrated the Mona Lisa is to Seal himself getting mauled by wolves, this movie is so ridiculous that it makes its biggest inspiration (rhymes with Feebler) look tame by contrast. Well, almost.
Like fellow mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, Popstar actually functions quite well as a musical too. Sure, the songs are ridiculous but the way they mock the current music industry is infectious and terrifyingly you may leave the film humming ‘f*ck Bin Laden’ under your voice. Built into the film is a tonne of music cameos and inside jokes too, giving a second layer of humour to anyone in the know. Having actual singers saying that Conner4Real “changed my life” is just perfect.
The whole Lonely Island group is centre stage and on point also. I’ve become increasingly aware of Samberg through Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Hotel Translyvania and while his comedy isn’t what you would call intelligent, he’s still more talented than people give him credit for. No matter how extreme Conner goes into his egotistic rabbit hole, there’s always Samberg to keep him both engaging and still sorta-likeable which is an impressive achievement. Most of the supporting cast bounce off him well, even if they don’t make much of an impression outside of Jorma Taccone’s Owen. He plays the childhood friend who stuck with him and acts as a foil and scapegoat for much of the movie’s jokes quite well.
Like the protagonist, this movie is far from perfect. The film sometimes goes for joke quantity over quality, some of the supporting cast (i.e. Sarah Silverman) is wasted, and the third act is bogged down in forced sentimentality that does not work. But also like its protagonist, people will still love it anyway. And no matter how bad this film could have been, its never going to be unwatchable as the music doco this film sorta-steals its name from.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended