Review: ‘Popstar’ An Amusing, Foul Samberg & Co Mockumentary
Andy Samberg has a humor that is an acquired taste.
Some like him and others don’t. I am a fan and had high hopes for “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.” After all, I enjoyed his recent mockumentary “7 Days in Hell” currently on HBO which is a hilarious tennis spoof in the vein of ESPN’s 30 for 30 doc series. In “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” Andy Samberg nails it as an arrogant celebrity playing the fictitious iconic popstar Conner4Real. This guy is riding high the wave of success only to have it come crashing down. My expectation was a little too high, but I did laugh often… at least, more so than “Neighbors 2.” When I didn’t laugh, I was amused or in shock that I didn’t know how to respond to the typical Judd Apatow hijinks (who serves as a producer).
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 3
The characteristics and movie making elements are the weakest element because “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” feels like numerous short sketches stitched together. This didn’t feel like a cohesive narrative on screen. Overall, the plot seems rather thin. It either needed to get to the point or be a shorter movie. With a running time around 80 minutes, that isn’t a compliment. Usually, I think shorter movies could be longer, but this almost needed to be shorter. I am curious what, if any, additional/extended/deleted scenes are out there somewhere. By comparison for a music mockumentary, “This Is Spinal Tap” was higher brow with a purpose to lampooning music while embracing smooth one-liners and witty banter. The construction of this plot and overall pacing in “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” was amateurish and the sub-par characteristics of the movie. This shouldn’t be surprising because filmmakers Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone made the SNL Digital Shorts and don’t have too much experience with full length narrative. This isn’t a diss and I shouldn’t complain about this, because the filmmakers have fun moments and know when a gag works (and sometimes they don’t) in short spurts. “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” isn’t the satire I was hoping for, but it does spoof ridiculous elements of the fame, the music industry, and pop culture. Overall, I preferred the set ups and the script over the directing.
Entertainment Value – 4
This is where “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” soars the most. You will laugh at the jokes and some scenes (some more than others). It is constantly and consistently absurd in its silliness. It wildly succeeds at lampooning the arrogance of media saturated famous people. The scenes when they are spoofing TMZ was a very funny highlight for me. Likewise, a Macklemore-esque song called “Equal Rights” about marriage equality with Pink singing the chorus was humorous but slightly over stayed its welcome. (“I’m not gay/But if I were/I would want equal rights.”) We get the point. Many of the jokes either hit or failed. All I will say about the Bin Laden inspired love song “Finest Girl” was crude, offensive, and will get audiences talking…and yet, I couldn’t stop laughing during this inappropriate skit. Gags are thrown at the audience like hyper Vine videos where some stick and others don’t. Other scenes are primed for YouTube videos and social media memes. If this doesn’t do well in theaters, it will be embraced by audiences months down the road.
Rewatchability – 3.5
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is so ferocious with the comical gags, random moments, and dirty jokes, it is hard to catch them all. I think over time this could be one to watch multiple times. You need to just re-watch moments. I am not sure if time will be kind to “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” but for this moment, it feels fresh. We can expect this movie to be dated in a few years. Or as fast as things go, maybe next year?
- Entertainment Value
Courtesy of Samberg and Company, "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" provides a breezy, good time for audiences seeking big laughs this summer.
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