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Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is headlined by musical digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, collectively known as The Lonely Island.  The comedy goes behind the scenes as singer/rapper Conner4Real (SAMBERG) faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops, leaving his fans, sycophants and rivals all wondering what to do when he’s no longer the dopest star of all.

Leading into the long summer of super serious blockbusters, it is nice to have a spot of silliness to cleanse the palate. And Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is just that; a delightfully silly breath of fresh air to remind us that Hollywood is capable periodically removing its own head from its ass.

Featuring the Saturday Night Live digital short super group Lonely Island, the plot of the film instead follows a fictional boyband, The Style Boyz. After a good amount of success early in their career, the group inevitably has artistic differences and split up. Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) moves to Colorado and becomes a farmer, abandoning fame and embracing facial hair. Owen (Jorma Taccone) decides to stick close to the group’s breakout star, Conner (Andy Samberg), and becomes the solo act’s DJ.

Conner, a.k.a. Conner4Real, is the pitch-perfect parody of our current state of popstars. He is less concerned with music than he is with showmanship. He also broadcasts everything on social media. From orgasms to meals everything is out there, and he thinks it is all what his fans want. For the most part, he is correct. His popularity is soaring and right up to the moment before his second solo album drops. The album is bad. Really bad. And the tour he embarks on to support the clunker is the main focus of Popstar.

Though any comparisons to This Is Spinal Tap are expected and justified, these comparisons do not necessarily give Popstar credit for being uniquely suited to our times. Not only does social media oversharing play a big part in Conner’s inevitable downfall, but the overall structure of the film has been adjusted to contemporary audiences too. Popstar is more VH1’s Behind the Music than a straight rock doc. This allows for not only greater relatability, but also plenty of quick talking-head interviews with Conner’s musical colleagues. From Pink to Adam Levine to Snoop Lion (née Dog), the cameos come at you nearly too quick to keep up with and process.

The jokes come at you damn quick too, and they are hilarious. The physical humor, including fairly substantial humiliation for each of The Style Boyz, is not as dumbed down as it could have been, but the quick dialogue and absurdly terrible song lyrics are where the film shines. I must have only caught about forty percent of the jokes and lyrics because I was still laughing about the previous gag.

And that’s the real reason these types of silly, fluffy, summer comedies exist. We don’t need a groundbreaking plot or uncharted character arcs. Don’t get me wrong – invention is a wonderful thing. But the comfort of knowing exactly what you are about to see in the theater, and then getting rewarded with a wonderful example of that predicted film is a great way to spend some quality time in the theater’s air-conditioning.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is trivial, airy, and it begs for both repeat viewing and quoting long after the film is over.

Rating: R

Directors: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone

Andy Samberg
Jorma Taccone
Akiva Schaffer
Sara Silverman
Tim Meadows
Maya Rudolph
Joan Cusack

Film Length: 86 minutes

Release Date: June 3, 2016

Distributor: Universal Pictures

  • Score - 8.5/10
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