Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Review

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The Lonely Island made their name from creating some of the most catchiest and funniest songs for SNL during the early 2000s. However, just like any other band, the individuals seek to make it on their own away from the group. Andy Samberg has a hit show on Fox (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Akiva Schaffer writes and directs for television and film, and Jorma Taccone is a songwriter, writer, and director of various theatrical and television projects. But just like any other band, the group always comes back together. This time, The Lonely Island have come together to create a music mockumentary called Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. But does the group’s reunion mark a grand return to the musical trio or does fail to meet expectations?

Fortunately, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a hysterical mockumentary that, for better or worse, brings together a good amount of comedic genres. It’s insightfully satirical, extremely vulgar, juvenile, and has a catchy soundtrack with hilarious lyrics too. There are some glaring issues with the film, but it’s still entertaining nonetheless.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping documents the journey of Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) as the musical sensation is about to drop his second album. Joining him in the documentary is his friend/DJ Owen (Jorma Taccone), his manager (Tim Meadows), his publicist (Sarah Silverman), his mother (Joan Cusack), his former friend/ex-bandmate Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), and the rest of his 32-man entourage. But when it becomes clear that his album is a failure, Conner4Real does everything he can to try and stay atop the musical world.

Popstar’s ability to capably lampoon pop music by creating songs that are both hilarious and catchy is due to the talent of The Lonely Island. “I’m So Humble,” “Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song),” and “Mona Lisa” are some very funny tracks that are exaggerated but they’re rather faithful variations of today’s pop music. However, these are not some of Lonely Island’s best work. Although the songs fit in delightfully in Popstar’s narrative, they’re not up to the same standard as “I Just Had Sex” or “Jack Sparrow.”

Along with their parodies of today’s pop songs, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone are intelligent observers of celebrity and pop culture, which provides them with plenty of juicy material to work with. However, Popstar does walk a fine line between its subpar jokes and sidesplitting gags, which are to be expected given its creators. The film sends a flurry of gags towards the audience hoping that most of the jokes will stick. Thankfully, Popstar nails the jokes at a high percentage. Much like the cult classic, This is Spinal Tap, directors Schaffer and Taccone aptly emulates the style of modern documentaries that in turn amplifies the absurdity of Conner4Real’s celebrity lifestyle – this is where the film’s best gags come from. Granted there are misfires, but most of the gags will have you laughing a lot.

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That being said, Andy Samberg steals the movie with Connor4Real’s cocky, naive persona. Samberg has a natural sweetness that comes through in Conner so even as Conner is acting spoiled or entitled, there’s an air of vulnerability to it. Samberg is in his element and it shows onscreen.

Samberg’s fellow Lonely Island bandmates, Schaffer and Taccone, are just as enjoyable albeit less charismatic as Samberg. Schaffer gives the character a slow-burn performance that’s quite funny at times. Meanwhile, Taccone’s loveable attachment to “good ole days” generates some pretty good laughs.

Probably the film’s only other standout is Tim Meadows, who gives enough emotion to the character that it makes his arc stronger than some of the other supporting cast. Sarah Silverman is great as Conner’s publicist but she’s barely used in the film. She does help with some of the film’s more tender moments, though. Most of the comedians and musicians making cameos are funny to see at times, but much like the film, the cameos are hit or miss.

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Unfortunately, the weakest parts of Popstar come from the predictable and weak storyline involving Conner4Real and his former group, The Style Boyz. If you follow any band that broke up that eventually reunited down the road then you know the core plot to the film. A lot of the character tropes are there as well. You’ll be able to spot the superstar that hogs all of the spotlight, the band member sick of all the antics, and the spiteful former member of the band. It’s one of those films where you come for the entertaining laughs but not for the story. In fact, even at under an hour-and-a-half, the movie tends drags a bit too.

Overall, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is as stupid and entertaining as the title implies. It’s intelligent, stupid, silly, and gross in all the right ways. There are quite a few missteps along the way, but for Lonely Island fans, Popstar is exactly the movie a fan of the trio could hope for.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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