Thursday, June 9, 2016
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
**** out of ****
I'm not sure if The Lonely Island's Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is truly a great film. Time will tell if this movie's mockery of today's pop-music culture will hold up in the years to come. All I know is that this hyperactive movie didn't miss a beat and I laughed from beginning to end, which is rare in my current relationship with comedy at the movies.
As a fan of the comic trio, I can observe that this movie has been a longtime coming. Ever since the group's internet shorts led them to an unaired work for Fox followed by great recognition through Saturday Night Live, they've had a lot of trouble taking their talents, as a group, to the big screen.
Andy Samberg became an overnight celebrity, while Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer stayed mostly offscreen writing, directing, and producing Lonely Island albums continuing their legacy in spoofing pop-rap music with Samberg. Until now, the closest thing the Lonely Island had to a movie was the uneven, yet funny, Hot Rod, which functioned as a starring vehicle for Samberg and co-starred Taccone while Schaffer stayed mainly behind the camera as director.
How appropriate it is that they've made a mockumentary about a pop-rap boyband that broke apart when their most popular member, Conner4real (Samberg) went solo. The movie beautifully follows in the steps of 1984's This Is Spinal Tap by lampooning how modern musicians are captured in documentaries.
Unlike the recent disappointing Key and Peele vehicle, Keanu, which was restricted by an action movie narrative structure, Popstar utilizes its segmented documentary nature to give the trio the freedom to show the variety of their comic antics from well choreographed music performances to situations that allow something similar to sketch comedy.
There is also the endless parade of celebrities who grace this fake documentary with their presence while playing themselves or hilarious side characters -such as a movie-stealer of a running gag involving Will Arnett, Chelsea Peretti, Mike Birbiglia and Eric Andre as the members of a TMZ-like newsroom reveling in snark.
This movie may be The Lonely Island's greatest accomplishment and it unjustly opened poorly at the box-office against lesser movies. It may demand repeat viewings for me to feel sure of the high recommendation I'm giving it, but I feel rather confident that in a couple years it will find a growing audience.