Fame never rests. After breaking up from the boy band The Style Boyz, Conner Friel, aka Connor4Real (Andy Samberg) has become his own solo act. He’s found money, success, a huge entourage, and a sizable fanbase. Even the world’s greatest artists take inspiration from Conner.
After his second CD drops to pitiful reviews, Conner is no longer the superstar who can do no wrong. He’s now the superstar who only does wrong in the eyes of the public. Not willing to let go of the spotlight, Connor finds it tough in rebuilding his image. It may take a blast from his past, in addition to a little self-checking, to climb back up the mountain.
In my opinion, some of the best comedy in recent years has come from megastars like Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Whether it be the constant run-ins with the law, or the God-like proclamations, their time in the spotlight is no doubt annoying but provides funny entertainment. So, why not use their personas, in addition to a few others, as inspiration to make a film about them? Sure, there’s Walk Hard and This is Spinal Tap, but it is time for something modern. The comedy trio The Lonely Island has given the world that modern film in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (great title).
Anyone familiar with Bieber’s Never Say Never, Believe, or Katy Perry’s Part of Me will clearly see the documentary—mockumentary—element. Even if not, the Lonely Island-directed film (Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Lawrence) very much follows the vein of Behind the Music, using equal parts of old footage, face-to-face interviews, and “live” moments to tell its story.
Popstar is fictionalized but the references are clear and no mistake. While you’ll see no appearances by a Jay-Z or a Beyonce, other very well-known stars make appearances to give the film credence. This is a humorous satire that hits on just about all the levels, even if the some of the levels are just barely above the ground. Obviously the music biz is at the core of the hilarity, but the media and 21st century culture itself is something the Lonely Island trio (all three are credited with the screenwriting) bring to the forefront. As opposed to some other comedies, this actually feels warranted as a feature instead of a short.
Popstar only runs 86 minutes. Yours truly doesn’t think it drags at all, but with that said, the predictable third act resolution comes off as very rushed and isn’t as earned as the movie paints it to be. It’s a low point on an otherwise great production, but still a low point. Speaking of production, any Lonely Island production is going to feature some memorable musical pieces, and this film does not disappoint from that regard.
Whether Samberg is singing how how humble he is while grinding with holograms, or rapping about equal rights while reiterating how he leans, all of the songs are catchy, written well by being intentionally terribly written, and about nothing, similar to many of today’s songs. This probably won’t be the vehicle that finally launches Andy to superstardom, but it does show that the Brooklyn 99 star is quite versatile in any style of comedy. He really does do it all here, the goofball and the straight man at times.
His two directors get a little time to shine as well while still playing their background roles as designed. Old vets Sarah Silverman and Tim Meadows show up as well, with the former being as good as she’s been in a while and the latter always seemingly being underrated in comedy. Chris Redd may be a name to watch out for down the line, sharing many great scenes with Samberg. There are a ton of side characters, some funnier than others, and the movie even pokes fun at that in an indirect way.
Unlike Connor4Real’s second album Connquest, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is much stronger than the reviews that album received. Not platinum quality, but more gold quality than imagined, certainly.
Photo credits go to consequencesofsound.net, nydailynews.com, and yahoo.com.
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