The trailer for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping implies that the mockumentary is out to be a modern day This Is Spinal Tap. Given that the film has been produced by the musically inclined clever comedy trio The Lonely Island, the chances of the film hitting its targets is high.
Both of those predictions end up being correct. Just as Rob Reiner’s comedy skewered rock star egos, Popstar rightfully pokes fun at modern day mainstream flavours-of-the-month. Connor4Real, however, is one of those musicians who doesn’t know his flavour has gone sour.
Andy Samberg confidently plays the role of the film’s oblivious celebrity. After Hot Rod, What’s Your Number?, and now Popstar, I guess he’s not afraid of being typecast as a silly, obnoxious fame-whore. His strongest work can be found on TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It’s the closest the SNL alumnus has come to balancing both street smarts and schoolyard adolescence, but I digress.
Samberg is great in Popstar, and his dependable ability to drench incognizant details with his happy-go-lucky daffiness is what helps satirical jokes make clean landings. He’s backed up by equally committed co-stars Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who also co-directed this funny flick and take jabs at the aesthetics of concert docs. I laughed incredibly hard at a gag where three hip-hop musicians caused a traffic jam with their own camera crews.
The filmmakers and their headliner (aka. The Lonely Island) cash in on their viral video talents by assembling different scenes that flow along an overarching story of Connor trying to bounce back from a tanking album. Each of these segments (like Connor reading reviews of his music or a disastrous marriage proposal) could stand alone as their own short films.
There is, however, a running theme of maintaining an image that resonants throughout Popstar’s entire ride and gives the film substance outside of its outrageous set-ups. Connor is an idiot, but he realizes how important social relevance is. When he feels obscurity nipping at his heels with accumulating failures, he scrambles for gimmicks and doesn’t shy away from selling out in hopes that his losses will hopefully be his gain. What he doesn’t realize – until it happens to him – is how overshadowing others only weakens his integrity and reputation . Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping gives music fans credit by portraying them as smart people who can decipher pathetic desperation and phoney passion (a controversial song entitled ‘Equal Rights’ has Connor defending gay marriage by also witlessly reminding his offended audience about his heterosexuality).
Back to that trailer: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping flaunts many cameos in its upbeat previews. Sadly, many of those faces (Bill Hader, Joan Cusack, Martin Sheen) are not given more to do other than what is seen by their fleeting appearances in the film’s marketing. Be prepared for Popstar’s loaded DVD though. I have a feeling a disc will be dedicated to nothing but hours of deleted scenes and bloopers.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie