Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Directors: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Writers: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Stars: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer
Review by Mike DeAngelo:
Regardless of how you feel about The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, & Jorma Taccone), you’ve got to at least respect their ability and sheer will to do their own thing. They were able to somehow repurpose Saturday Night Live as an outlet for their famous “digital shorts” instead of conforming to the show’s format - all while never compromising their goofy, offbeat sense of humor. In 2007, they attempted to translate the “digital short” feel to the film world with their highly underrated film, Hot Rod. Sadly, audiences did not embrace the movie and it was swept out of the theaters about as quickly as it entered, and they returned to their SNL comfort zone to churn out more digital shorts. With Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, the gang attempts to recalibrate with a Spinal Tap-esque mockumentary of the recent string of theatrically released promotional popstar documentaries (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Katy Perry: Part of Me, One Direction: This Is Us, etc). The resulting movie has so many different brands of humor that you’re bound to at least get a few laughs no matter who you are.
I’ll start off by saying that I like Andy Samberg – he’s genuinely funny and commits so hard that it’s difficult to dislike the guy. The same goes for his fellow Lonely Island-ers, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. On top of that, they all have great chemistry with each other – no doubt due to their lifelong friendship. Their general goofy charm and comedic chops elevate the material, which naturally gives them more slack from the audience.
That’s not to say that they need the slack, as Popstar has a lot to laugh at. The Lonely Island knows how to stack the deck in their favor by showcasing their strengths: dumb humor, spot-on hilarious pop music homages, and cameos galore. They also know enough to root the story around the relationship between the three of them, which gives the movie heart and keeps it from going off the rails towards the end.
With that said, the movie does have its weaknesses. First, the structure of the film is fairly cookie-cutter, which does make the overall experience blander than if they were to play with the tropes of the genre a bit more. Then there’s the question of who exactly this movie is aimed at other than their immediate, small fan-base. It’s rated R, and, trust me, it earns the rating. Strangely, that means the audience of the movies they’re parodying can’t likely see it. There’s also some jokes that fall pretty flat, but the jokes per minute ratio is so high, you likely won’t care much.
In the end, this movie is for Lonely Island fans. If you like them, go see it, as it’s right down the pipe of what they’ve done previously. The entire movie is basically just like their digital shorts, to a fault – in that, when it’s funny, it’s really funny, but when it’s not, it’s really not. Yet, even when they miss it’s still hard to not respect since they commit so earnestly. I’d still much rather watch Lonely Island movies than whatever Melissa McCarthy & Adam Sandler put out these days.