Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Cast: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, James Buckley
Screenplay: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
87 mins. Rated R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use.
Today, I wanted to look at a flop from earlier this year: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, from the creative team known as The Lonely Island and producer Judd Apatow.
In this mockumentary, we are introduced to Conner Friel (Andy Samberg, TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Hotel Transylvania), former member of The Style Boyz. He had formed the band with childhood best friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), but after a big solo record, Conner decides its time to quit the band and go forward with his solo career. The faux doc recounts Conner’s life in music mostly during this time through accounts by his publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman, TV’s Bob’s Burgers, Wreck-It Ralph), his manager Harry (Tim Meadows, TV’s Son of Zorn, Mean Girls), and other musicians that have known Conner.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is likable enough, but it never really soars. Sure, the movie has plenty of hilarious moments, but it never gets the footing to maintain enjoyment. I personally loved the cameo from Justin Timberlake as Tyrus Quash, Conner’s perfonal chef, and Will Arnett’s playing as the head of a faux TMZ called CMZ is absolutely amazing. I had to watch the CMZ segments multiple times. But these moments are too few and far between to really maintain my interest. Knowing the talented minds behind The Lonely Island, this should’ve been flat-out more fun than it ended up being.
It’s always nice to see musicians poking a bit of fun at themselves, and the many, many, MANY cameos definitely were refreshing. I found many of them to be quite amusing, but never really laugh-out-loud funny. Samberg’s portrayal of Conner tends to be a bit too unlikable to really root for. You almost want him to fail just for the catharsis that Rock Bottom offers, but even then, he just doesn’t get it, and before long, you just want more cameos and less Conner.
Maybe I’m being too tough on Popstar, but maybe we deserve better. I’m shocked that the film failed to reach a target audience (as it only made back about half of its $20 Million budget), because it isn’t altogether bad. It is funny to be sure, but in a world of underperforming comedies, I just think it could’ve and should’ve been better.
-Kyle A. Goethe