Review: “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” – A Riot

Written by Matt Butler June 09, 2016


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Seeing Popstar, and hearing the booming laughter from all corners of the theatre, I realized I haven’t been to many comedies lately, or maybe just not many good comedies. It’s a clear case for why we go to the movies at all, this contagion of entertainment. You can almost feel it in the air, the ball of it all, and it works to amplify your own enjoyment. Plus you know, alcohol helps (A note to all my under-21 readers: Your parents hide the good stuff in the cupboard).

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping has much to say about the pop industry and popularity altogether, and a certain Canadian pop star gives them more than enough to work with (even a bitter two-second appearance in the film). Much of what is said in Popstar has been said one way or another in several Youtube and SNL sketches and parodies, and for good reason, we’re all sick and tired of these pretty-faced talentless hacks prancing around on the stage, but we indulge them because we all need someone to hate (Biased? Maybe). But side-splitting satire isn’t all that makes the Lonely Island unique, it’s more the aesthetic of it. Theirs is the most refined, polished form of irony, riding the line between aimless and on-the-nose like only the best comedians do. I think Consequence of Sound puts it best, “The Lonely Island are good at being dumb, but they’re even better at being secretly smart”.
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“Ever since I was born, I was dope.”

Now, I’m no music critic, but I know for this genre, catchiness is key, and Popstar‘s hooks and melodies are as earwormingly -there’s a word I’ll never use again- catchy as any top 40 hit. These are some of the standout moments of the movie, and what any Lonely Island fan can most easily appreciate. Hey, maybe that’s why Hot Rod bombed, there weren’t any original songs. Still a fun movie though. Sidetracked! The songs do put the story at a bit of a standstill when they come up, but this is a film where I’m not just okay with that, I’m actually not for story all together.

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“I’d love to get Conner to the point where he’s just kind of everywhere, like oxygen or gravity or clinical depression, he’s just everywhere.”

Popstar is at its most hilarious when it’s at its most distracted. The gags that come completely out of left field are the jokes that hit the hardest, which is why I won’t even talk about them here. This is, however, kind of sad for the story and its lead character, Conner, played with surprising balance of exaggeration and restraint by Andy Samberg. We see Conner4Real go through the motions of popularity, with the rise and fall of his success and ego, but just as his ego deflates, so do the laughs, not for lack of good jokes, but because the third act just doesn’t have as many jokes as the first or second. It’s the third act that shows the movie’s attempt to humanize Conner, and it surprisingly works, even if it is a little ham-fisted. The only issue is its predictability. As soon as Conner starts taking an initiative to retool his life, the movie sets itself on cruise control until it gets to its sappy resolution.

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“Justin Bieber’s got his Beliebers, and I’ve got my Connfidants.”

But hell, I didn’t come to a Lonely Island movie for story, I came for Lonely Island, and that’s exactly what I got (with a little Timberlake and Bolton on the side). What’s more, those scenes of the Starboys (Jorma Taccone as Owen, Akiva Schaffer as Lawrence) getting back together, jamming out and writing music, radiates unfettered camaraderie. It’s a nice feeling seeing all three occupying the same frame, since Samberg is so often the centre of attention (both as the fictitious Conner and in the real Lonely Island). It’s an unexpected bit of sentimentality that makes the stale last third a bit sweeter.

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“We’re like McCartney and-”

-“Kanye.”

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a great way to laugh off your seething hatred of popular media, everything from the self-absorbed celebrities to the tabloids that fuel their fire (that TMZ parody was golden). I’d love to go into detail what some of the best jokes were and why, but explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog: You understand it better, but you kill it in the process. Just grab some friends, maybe some beers, and go see Popstar. It’s a good time guaranteed! Just drink responsibly. Or don’t. I’m a critic, not a cop.

My Rating: 7/10

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About Matt Butler

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is a strapping young English Major with a fiery passion for the art of cinematic storytelling. He likes long walks on the beach and knows the proper use of 'your' and 'you're'. (Example: I hope YOU'RE having a wonderful time browsing our site, and I hope you enjoy YOUR time reading my film reviews. I wrote them just for you.)

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