In this latest Kevin James outing, we have a mixture of three movies that don’t usually go together. We’ve got the “Teacher who finds new passion for teaching” movie, as well as the “Music is the key to the soul” theme. And then we add in “Bone-crunching mixed martial arts action.” Somehow though… it works.
The gist. Kevin James stars as a teacher who’s become complacent in his job as a teacher and only becomes reinvigorated by his fellow music teacher, played by the Fonz himself Henry Winkler. Unfortunately, this happens right as the school announces that they’re going to cut all extracurricular activities, including the music department. In an effort to help his new friend, James steps and vows to raise the money. But how? He finds that even by losing in mixed martial arts (MMA) matches, you can make ten thousand dollars.
Kevin James is convincing in his transformation from apathetic teacher to inspiring leader. He’s also pretty believable as a MMA fighter, slimming down just enough to pull it off. And since he’s getting paid to lose fights (most of the time), he doesn’t have to be in incredible shape. His supporting cast is fine, including Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek. And then there are the kids… The kids aren’t as loveable as in movies like School of Rock, but they work. The only one with any sort of dimension is a filipino girl whose father wants her to give up music (played by singer Charice). For her, it’s just a tad unbelievable when the shy piano player starts belting out tunes with extreme confidence.
And then let’s talk action. As I said, James is surprisingly convincing. He takes hits like a high school biology teacher would. He struggles but it fits completely with his character. And when he manages to get a hit in, it looks pretty painful as well. The climax of the movie is the best fight and it’s actually really enjoyable (if you’re into that sort of thing). In the midst of these fights, you kind of forget what the movie’s really about, which is a testament to the fight choreography.
What doesn’t work?
The movie is fairly predictable and cliche, tapping into other “teacher fights for the kids” movies. As the final fight begins, you can already predict the ending, though the journey is still enjoyable. This movie doesn’t do anything exciting or new, except for blending a few genres in an interesting way. But people that want to see MMA action will likely go for heavier fare, as opposed to the diluted version we receive with Here Comes the Boom.
While it’s not new or innovative, I enjoyed it. I can appreciate both the MMA action and the pro-education inspirational film, so it worked for me. It was funny but not over the top and it left me with a smile on my face. It’s not getting very good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, but if your thoughts usually line up with my reviews, you might find a lot to appreciate here, although fairly unoriginal. If you’re looking for something light and fun at the theaters, Here Comes the Boom might be your best choice right now.