Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review
The most pretentious thing at the cinemas over the past decade has been these musical documentaries highlighting various popstars. Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, One Direction, and others think that general audiences, as well as their fans, are rabid enough to hand over their hard earned cash for a lackluster and pompous look into their life or 3D footage of their concert. Sadly, they’re right. So let me go ahead and tell you about a musical documentary that’s worth the price of admission.
Conner4Real (Samberg) is a self-absorbed rap star, who got his start standing on the shoulders of his friends in the rap group, Style Boyz. Conner’s vocal talents lead him to become the focal point of the group, but soon the other key pieces fall to the wayside. The leaving of one of Conner’s producers, lyricists, and friends, Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), leads to his solo career. The only one to stick around is Owen (Taccone), who is too naïve to realize that he should abandon ship as well.
Conner, in the context of “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”, isn’t a direct parody of anyone. Conner is more of a general rip on the music industry and rap/hip-hop artists as a whole. Everything from his songs, mannerisms, and lifestyle are digs on the machismo lifestyle and culture. Most of Conner’s song lampoon misogynistic, racist, and homophobic ideas that are generally in rap lyrics.
“Finest Girl” is a song that combines the macho male id and the penance to kill. “Equal Rights” is a representation of the misguided ways that celebrities try to disguise their own bigotry. It also pokes fun at how many are so insecure about others views and their own sexuality. Like I said, there’s no real focal point to Samberg and crew’s scorn, but I’m sure those familiar with some of the Indie and Top 40 rappers will be able to pick up on a couple of their targets. There are some wonderful and rightfully deserved pot shots that anyone should pick up on, like TMZ.
The story follows Conner’s downfall with the release of his sophomore album, Connquest. The songs I’ve mentioned are on the 17-song album, complete with over 100 producers and plenty of vain references towards Conner’s ego and persona. The cameos are fast and heavy, with many playing themselves and others playing fictional characters in the bizarre world surrounding Conner. But even in this zany universe, Conner’s selfish ways still manage to catch up to him.
Connquest falls flat. Conner’s commercial tie-in backfires horrendously. Even President Obama holds a press conference after a particular blunder. Despite all this, Connor is deep in denial and surrounded by yes men. So he continues on. He keeps looking for new gimmicks to add to his show, wondering why no one likes his music, and burns the remaining bridges that he has left standing. You could almost say it’s like watching Metallica work on “St. Anger”.
The real-life parody band, the Lonely Island, make up the Style Boyz. The humor that they’ve been pumping out on records since 2009 is fine-tuned in “Popstar”. To the casual viewer, it may seem like a mad jumbling of different comedic styles, but the Lonely Island has a clear direction. They love the potty humor of Adam Sandler, the physical deprivation of Chris Farley, the verbal and visual surrealness of Steve Martin, and the silliness of the Monty Python troupe. It’s a difficult mix to stir up, but it’s evened out enough to provide 96 minutes of entertainment.
“Popstar” isn’t without its flaws though. It seems to come up dry on laughs midway through the third act and it can’t help but fall on predictable jokes and storytelling when looking to wrap things up. “Popstar” will also have a love/hate affair with audience. There are bound to be an equal amount of laughs and walkouts from the theater. But “Popstar” is a hilarious skewering of today’s pop-culture and the stars entrapped in it. It’s set a high standard for every comedy for the rest of the summer. Maybe even the year.