Popstar (Never Stop Never Stopping)
In this parody of current pop celebrities, Andy Samberg stars as a former boy band star now going out on his own. It’s a creation of The Lonely Island, famous for their SNL songs like I’m On a Boat and I Just Had Sex, teamed with the production of Judd Apatow. This sounds like a genius idea, but does it work?
Pop genius Conner4Real (Samberg) is about to release his second solo album and go on a tour. We follow him documentary-style through this adventure. Serving as his DJ is his best friend (Jorma Taccone). We also have their third friend who has gone AWOL and is now a farmer in Colorado (Akiva Schaffer). Together the three of them used to form the boy band The Style Boyz. We also have their manager (Tim Meadows), their sponsor (Maya Rudolph), and Conner’s agent (Sarah Silverman). We also have cameos by nearly everyone that’s ever lived.
When you walk into a movie like this, you just want to laugh. And in that regard, this movie succeeded in a big way. I laughed more than I probably have in a long long time. It reminds me of a modern day Zoolander, like what Zoolander 2 tried to do. It’s a satire of today’s pop culture. The most obvious parallel is Justin Bieber but it also takes notes from the headlines regarding One Direction and even back to Justin/N’Sync. It’s surprisingly smart, when it needs to be.
Also, as you would expect from the Lonely Island crew, the music is phenomenal. Unfortunately I saw an early screening and the soundtrack doesn’t drop until the movie’s actual release date in early June. I am dying to rehear some of these tracks, they have the same production quality and absolute ridiculousness that you would expect. This is basically a full-length music video but it absolutely works in that regard.
I also think the performances are surprisingly good, especially our three leads. Samberg, while playing a ridiculous exaggeration, actually feels like a different character than his usual go-to, especially in later parts of the movie when Conner becomes especially dark and grim. The highlight though was Jorma Taccone as the DJ and best friend, who is constantly second fiddle to Conner. There’s an especially hilarious arc where they try to turn him into a Daft Punk / Deadmau5 kind of character and it’s perfectly ridiculous.
Now, I can emphasize how funny the movie is buttttttt that doesn’t always equate to an especially spectacular movie. I imagine this film will become some people’s favorite movie but I don’t know if it’ll get any mainstream traction.
Some of the jokes in this movie really land but sometimes they miss horribly and completely. It’s rare, but there are some entire sequences that left me unimpressed, often because they would go for the obvious below the belt joke (sometimes quite literally). It’s crude and definitely not one to watch with your parents, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it felt like there should have been more clever jokes to hit than the ones they went with. So I was disappointed when they went for the low hanging fruit in an otherwise witty movie.
Also the emphasis on celebrity cameos started to become almost an intrusion. It’s funny yes, to see real people reference this fake character, but I didn’t need that so much once I became invested in the actual story here. Also, some of the people marketed in this movie literally only show up for one quote, which likely also appeared in the trailer, so don’t expect big names to stick around for too long.
Popstar is really fun and surprisingly clever, though it does take a detour to the low hanging fruit every once in a while. The satire is strong, the music is catchy, and the movie is hilarious from start to finish. It’s a hard movie to describe so I don’t think many folks will see it, but if you’re looking for some good laughs come June 3rd when it goes into wide release, I think you’ll have some fun. Is it a good movie? I think so. I judge comedies based on laughs and I didn’t stop laughing during this one.