Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (R) ★★★

Andy Samberg co-writes and stars in "Popstar: Never Stop Stopping."
Andy Samberg co-writes and stars in “Popstar: Never Stop Stopping.” Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Popstar Successfully Skewers Modern Pop Music

The movie This Is Spinal Tap (1984) was a groundbreaking comedy that introduced many to the mockumentary style of filmmaking and focused on the ridiculousness of 70s heavy metal bands. Andy Samberg and his comedy team Lonely Island, continues this tradition with a funny send-up of today’s current pop stars in their new film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

This comedy is amusing and does a respectable job of parodying today’s pop music world. The antics and behavior of the characters don’t actually seem far off what pop stars like Justin Bieber, Mariah Cyrus, and young rappers would do to steal headlines. Today’s pop music scenes is ripe for satire, especially for a writing team that mastered their craft after years as writers and performers at Saturday Night Life (SNL) including creating many famous digital shorts. The movie is far from perfect though as the story’s overall plot is fairly predictable, some of the jokes are too childish and it has a fairly short running time of less than 90 minutes.

Andy Samberg (Hotel Transylvania 2, 2015) stars as Connor4Real, a poorly behaved pop singer with millions of fans and dollars with a huge ego to match. Connor was initially part of the boy band, The Style Boyz, with his two childhood friends, Owen and Lawrence, played by his real-life comedy writing partners (Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, co-directors of the film). After becoming huge teen idols, however, Connor had a falling out with his bandmate, Lawrence, and relegated Owen to being his DJ, and from there launched a solo career. After a very successful solo album, the public is ready for his long-awaited album, which he calls the most anticipated album of the decade. Outside of Owen, Connor’s long-time manager (Tim Meadows, Train Wreck, 2015), and his trusted publicist, Paula (Sarah Silverman, Gravy, 2015), Connor is completely surrounded by a hoard of groupies, “yes men,” and a roadie who likes to overdose in his free time (Bill Hader, Train Wreck, 2015). After his new album gets trashed by music critics, even receiving a “poo emoticon” from Rolling Stone, and his ticket sales fail to meet expectations, Connor and his team make a series of misguided decisions to create buzz and turn things around that result in hilarious antics on the road. Eventually, Connor is forced to take a step back, evaluate his life and try to find a way to repair his relationships and career.

The SNL connection also led to a number of strong cameos from former SNL cast members (Tim Meadows, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, etc.), which only supplement the mockumentary’s humor. The movie also gets a boost from cameos from the music business as well as current and pop music figures (Mariah Carey, Simon Cowell, Usher, Pharell and more) who steal several scenes. There are also some spot-on digs at the celebrity gossip and entertainment news show, TMZ. The film’s very own ‘CMZ’ takes the unique group of obnoxious reporters to another level and pokes fun at the paparazzo show host, Harvey Levin, fittingly played by Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, 2016) and his many water bottles with oversized straws.

At times, the movie overdoes it with cameos, which may make the movie less funny the second time around when there is no shock value. Still, the movie will provide moviegoers plenty of laughs and some of the biggest laughs will likely come from the cameos.

Bottom Line? Andy Samberg and his team created a clever comedy that is certainly not the smartest film of the year, but it will provide plenty of laughs this summer. It’s a ‘one and done’ type of film though as the cameo’s shock value fades after one viewing.

Credits: Directed by Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone; Written by Andy Samberg, Akiva Shaffer, and Jorma Taccone

Cast:  Andy Samberg (Connor4Real), Akiva Shaffer (Lawrence), Jorma Taccone (Owen), Tim Meadows (Harry), Sarah Silverman (Paula), Imogen Poots (Ashley Wednesday)

Studio: Universal Pictures

Running Time: 86 minutes

Jessica Aymond © June 1, 2016