Synopsis: When it becomes clear that his solo album is a failure, a former boy band member does everything in his power to maintain his celebrity status.
Release Date: June 3, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Music
Although most might not be familiar with the work of The Lonely Island, chances are they have heard at least one of the group’s songs. Born from the “Digital Short” era of “Saturday Night Live,” the trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer have expanded to the big screen as separate entities but never as a full group. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is The Lonely Island’s first foray into the film world, and it’s every bit as goofy, absurd, self-referential, and hilarious as their small screen work.
Built as a parody of concert films like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a mockumentary that follows singing sensation Conner4Real (Samberg) as he prepares to release his biggest album to date. At one point Conner was a member of the StyleBoyz, a mashup of Nsync and New Kids on the Block that featured Conner’s childhood friends Owen (Taccone) and Lawrence (Schaffer), but in typical boy bad fashion, Conner’s popularity thrust him into a solo career, and in the process, distorted his relationships. Now, as Conner4Real, the solo singer surrounds himself with “Yes” men and women, people like manager Harry (Tim Meadows) and publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman) who prop Conner up even as his new album fails miserably.
At its heart, Popstar follows a predictable concert film formula, only with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. There are live performances of some gut-busting songs, like a rousing dance tune about how Conner4Real is unbelievably humble, as well as depictions of key moments like signing a product sponsor, finding an opening act, and even a marriage proposal, and everything is done with as much exaggeration as possible.
Like any good parody, Popstar is overwrought with those doses of realism, but with an ever-present comedic twist. Conner4Real strikes you as the type of singer who would easily fit in with today’s culture, but he’s very much a caricature. Even Conner’s entourage all feel like real people, exaggerated to fit this milieu.
But all of those clever elements wouldn’t have been successful if the film wasn’t funny, and luckily Popstar packs plenty of laughs into its 90-minute run time. Yes, a lot of the jokes may be considered childish, but there’s an undertone of satire spread throughout that should be appreciated. This is the type of movie that will easily reward repeat viewings as you pull more jokes and references out.
That being said, some people aren’t going to find Popstar as funny as others; the barometer for this film has a large scale of degrees. Basically, if you find The Lonely Island shtick entertaining, then this movie was tailor-made for you, but if you think the group’s tendency to mix the absurd with the R-rated is off-putting, then it’s best to avoid this one.
In the end, though, Popstar delivers a delightfully absurd concert film spoof that offers consistent laughs and big broad characters. It knows exactly what it wants to be, and never moves away from that. In some respects that may be seen as a disappointment, especially in the way the film wraps up, but that’s also part of the process. You can’t spoof effectively without mirroring some of the common elements, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a very effective spoof.
As was mentioned previously, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping‘s comedy is largely dependent on exaggerated, R-rated humor, so if that’s in the least bit off-putting to you, it’s best to avoid the film. What Samberg, Taccone, and Schaffer have done here as writers is lean into the humor that has helped grow The Lonely Island brand, not betray it in a bid to attract a larger audience. The songs all have that perfect note of satire, but they can be crass at the same time. Expect big laughs from this one if it at all interests you. The Lonely Island were perfectly suited for this very niche genre, and they definitely nail the tone and feel of the comedy.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Akiva Schaffer
- Producer(s): Judd ApatowRodney RothmanAndy SambergAkiva SchafferJorma Taccone
- Screenwriter(s): Andy SambergAkiva SchafferJorma Taccone
- Cast: Andy SambergImogen PootsBill Hader Maya RudolphSarah SilvermanWill ArnettMartin SheenJoan CusackWill ForteTim MeadowsAkiva SchafferJorma Taccone
- Editor(s): Craig Alpert
- Cinematographer: Brandon Trost
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA