Everyone Must See “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”!!!

By Scott Kurland
Film: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping:
Starring: Andy Samberg, Tim Meadows, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Chris Redd, Imogen Poots, and Joan Cusack
Rated R
Directors: Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone

  Originally, I was going to begin this review by preaching about the wonderful format that is mockumentary. Without mockumentary, we wouldn’t have “This Is Spinal Tap” or “A Mighty Wind”. However, last night I saw the box office standings for this week’s film “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” and I got a little infuriated for two reasons. First, this is a film that suffered from the judgement of internet trolling. The internet is one of the most dangerous weapons we have and if a ton of people bad mouth a film before it's even released, that film will tank. The second reason is because of the films are destroying this one in the box office….”Alice Through The Looking Glass”… and you know what my review of that ‘film’ was (if not, go check it out). With that said, this is my review of “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”.

“Popstar” is the Lonely Island’s take on the music industry today. In this mockumentary, we meet the Macklemore-Bieber-hybrid Conner 4Real (real name Conner Friel). Conner (Andy Samberg) was in a boyband in the early 2000s called “The Style Boyz”. However, Conner was the Timberlake of the group and he became a successful rapper/singer with songs like “I’m So Humble” and “Equal Rights”. Things take a turn though as Conner begins his downward spiral and looks for new gimmicks to help his failing tour; gimmicks that include an opening act named "Hunter The Hungry" (Chris Redd) with an ego bigger than Kayne West’s. After Conner has a wardrobe malfunction, he begins to realize he’s not the “Popstar” he once was. Can he overcome this obstacle or is he just another failing singer?

I loved this film and I think a lot of people are not seeing this film because they think it’s a two hour SNL digital short. It’s  so much more than that. “Popstar” is the funniest film to come out in the last five years. How the lonely island nailed the music industry so well is beyond me, but they did it. Conner’s song “Equal Rights” is a play on Macklemore’s “Same Love." Like Macklemore, Conner continues to claim he’s straight, except he does it through his song which moots the point. This is a film that is so packed full of jokes it needs to be seen multiple times because you’ll miss so many jokes in that first viewing.

The reason “Popstar” works is because of Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer’s direction. Taccone made “MacGrubber,” one of my favorite cult films. Schaffer is just a genius; I’m convinced of that. They never play the scenes as a joke. The fact that Conner takes himself so seriously leads to so many great gags at his expense. Not to mention the interviews they get hailing Conner as the next Michael Jackson add to the realism of the film. They get Ringo Starr, Simon Cowell, and Mariah Carey just to name a few. Schaffer and Taccone make a wonderful team, but the person who sells this film is Samberg.

I’ve loved Andy Samberg sine I saw him on channel101.com in the webseries “The BU”, then on SNL. I knew he was going to be big. Samberg has wonderful charisma and is able to play the Peter Falk-like characters who appear to be dim, but they’re actually next level savants. As Conner, Samberg shows us a singer who is a bit selfish, but we the audience understand that Conner is stunted in a phase of permanent adolescence because he achieved fame at such a young age. The way Samberg has Conner go from not knowing that ’30 Seconds to Mars’ is a band name and not an actual destination time, to understanding  how the album market works is hysterical. Samberg proves time and time again that he’s not just the SNL Digital shorts guy; he’s a bankable actor of Dustin Hoffman proportions.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a clever look at the documentaries the tween music industry puts out to increase album sales. This is a film I urge you to see. It needs your business. It's the only way we’ll keep getting good comedies that are both smart and well written. If you want a great R-rated raunchy comedy, do yourself a favor and see “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”

scott kurlandComment