Some subjects are just ripe for the lampooning, but never seem to get their just desserts. Pop music, the TMZ-obsessed generation, and Justin Bieber are among just of the few things that have really needed the piss taken out of them and it really hasn’t happened to a satisfying enough degree. Hell, Justin Bieber has just gotten more and more self-indulgent and is still celebrated, even with denying his fans any of his time including meet and greets. Basically what I’m saying is someone has to take this Canadian embarrassment down a peg and I’m happy to say that this is kind of the mission for The Lonely Island in their first big screen venture together.
Pairing with mega comedy producer Judd Apatow, the film definitely sits in a good pairing with one of the filmmaker’s past hits, Jake Kasdan’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. While that film capitalized on the very recent Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer look to be taking some shots at the completely unnecessary Bieber concert film Never Say Never crossed with a VH1 Behind the Music special. With all the relevant satire, clever cameos and brand new music from the Saturday Night Live and YouTube viral trio, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping looks to be fun, at the least.
The movie follows Conner Friel (Samberg), the biggest pop star in the world, as he shares his life with a documentary crew. Starting from the childhood formation of his boy band The Style Boys, with his friends Lawrence and Owen, we see the group’s rise to popularity with their hit “Donkey Roll”. The group would eventually implode, Lawrence (Schaffer) leaving the business to become a farmer, and Owen becoming the D.J. in Conner’s solo career, rebranding himself Conner4Real. He would release his first album, Thriller, Also and end up becoming the envy of people across the world, as well as his peers including Nas, Usher and Quest Love with hits like Humble featuring a hologram of Adam Levine.
Conner4Real is a giant in popularity and earns millions of dollars, causing his ego to swell as long as the bloated amount of people on his personal payroll. So when his completely questionable sophomore album comes out, entitled Connquest, and bombs badly, Conner is left unsure of how to proceed next. Featuring completely uncouth and offensive songs like “Equal Rights” featuring Pink and “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)”, his fan base is fast slipping away from him and his continued blunders on the tour only further aggravate things. As he struggles to make it on his own, oblivious to the one thing that will bring his star power back, Conner faces the real possibility of not being the one thing he prides himself on. Relevancy.
Let’s be real here, as real as Conner4Real. This movie is dumb on the surface, but anyone could see that from the first time a trailer debuted. That being said, this movie was hysterically funny to me as I couldn’t help but laugh throughout. The creative team of Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer makes undeniable comedic magic, as they usually have in my opinion, and this time Akiva gets a little chance to shine, after Andy and Jorma got some screen time together years ago in Hot Rod. This is just the tip of the great casting iceberg as well, as great comedic actors get their chance to show off how underrated they are, notably Tim Meadows, as the long suffering manager of both The Style Boys and Conner4Real, and Sarah Silverman, Conner’s publicist, who constantly seeks attention for her client. It’s just a few pieces of a mix of massive ensemble and brilliant cameos that make this film so enjoyable.
As far as a normal film’s narrative goes, this film is far from your conventional comedy. The mockumentary approach to the film is also different than Rob Reiner’s This Is Spinal Tap or any of Christopher Guest’s subsequent movies afterwards. Lonely Island’s film is more about taking a ridiculous approach to everything that seems to be popular at this moment. In order to reach the broader and more progressive aspect of his “Connfidants” he gets Owen to take on a crazy robot head for an EDM approach, a tiny bit reminiscent of Harry Shearer’s space pod in Spinal Tap, being the closest relation. For me, the TMZ bits with Will Arnett playing a heightened Harvey Levin to a room featuring Eric Andre, Chelsea Peretti and Mike Birbiglia were some of my favorite quick pieces and the outlandishness of Conner’s wedding proposal on the E! network is that much funnier based on the reality of that network really doing something like that.
For those looking for a high brow and sophisticated comedy, it would really be odd for an informed person to look at this film for that style of entertainment. With Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping you are getting exactly what you see in the trailer, a vapid idiot making just as vapid and idiotic music. This movie was definitely made for the fans and will see that mass appeal and the very real feeling that this group has finally made it on the biggest platform there is, the big screen. At a quick runtime of just under an hour and a half, I feel this movie does exactly what it’s aiming to do, make you laugh and leave you singing one of the many songs contained within. I give Popstar a four out of five.