Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

When it becomes clear that his solo album is a failure, a former boy band member does everything in his power to maintain his celebrity status.

 

Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone

Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Tim Meadows, Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, Joan Cusack, Maya Rudolph, Carrie Underwood

Rated: R (some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use)

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

By Matt Greene

The excessive world of modern pop is so soulless and pretentious, it’s ripe picking for drama. The mental breakings of stars like Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and others show an inherent flaw in how human beings are turned into oblivious money-making commodities, and then unceremoniously spit-out when their glimmer dies. Popstar, the brain child of the YouTube-turned-SNL stars The Lonely Island, touches on these things enough, but mostly it’s just fantastic jokes. A timely and lightning-fast musical mockumentary, I could barely catch my breath from laughing.

The story works as a parallel to the careers of the three Lonely Island guys themselves. Conner4Real (Samberg) is an international popstar who has grown beyond the popularity of his two Style Boyz partners (Taccone, Schaffer). While it uses that parallel effectively, it never becomes overbearing. Instead what shines are the original songs, a staple of these guys past endeavors, including their groundbreaking “SNL Digital Shorts” segments. Each one is an instant classic (i.e. “I’m So Humble”, “Things in My Jeep”), played ridiculously as if they have influenced real musicians, many of whom make hilarious cameos.

For those of you old enough to remember the comedy classic “Spinal Tap”, this format may seem somewhat familiar. However, a distractingly blatant rip-off this is not. It uses its 30-year separation as a way to point out the modern massive difference between actual artistic influence and silly cultural nostalgia that permeates the musical landscape. And while it doesn’t quite reach Spinal-Tap-heights of greatness, if you’re looking for a perfect friends-night-out, this is a comedy you will be happy to visit and revisit over and again.

4 out of 5 Stars

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

By Cole Schneider

The Lonely Island’s “Popstar” is funnier than it is good, but is indeed very funny. It picks low hanging fruit after low hanging fruit and eventually that wears on an audience, but individually most jokes are funny. The story follows megastar singer/rapper Connor 4Real whose sophomore album is a flop begging his celebrity worthiness. His DJ, now reduced to pressing play on an iPod, and an estranged friend, now a lonely weed farmer, were Connor’s mates in The Style Boyz, from which he rose to fame. The three characters, played by the three members of The Lonely Boys, have a meta element to them as they await re-grouping although it doesn’t make the story much more interesting. Despite its incessant reaching to make it happen, calling any of the characters two-dimensional seems insulting to old Mario games. Instead, “Popstar” is at its best when it just blazes joke after song after joke after song. Every time it slows down, story and character inadequacies become more frustrating.

Even still, keeping its pace up has its difficulties too. There are perhaps 15 brilliant 3 minute YouTube videos in “Popstar”, but because they never build on one another, it has more of a plodding cumulative effect than it should. I’ve always felt this way about The Lonely Island’s albums too. I like nearly every song if I can laugh for 3 minutes and move on with my life before listening to the next one; but strung together as an album, I’m bored by the repetition and lack of anything actually happening. Everything satirical in “Popstar” has been done better by “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Zoolander”. But it does remain occasionally funny!

3 out of 5 stars

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