Movie Review: POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOP STOPPING

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popstar
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOP STOPPING (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer

Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman, Imogen Poots, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusask

Review by Gilbert Seah

POPSTAR is a Saturday Night Live type comedy that centres on a successful white rapper, by the stage name of Conner4real (SNL’s Adam Sambrg). It is Samberg’s vehicle with his name on the starring, writing and producing credits. It is a send up of pop stars – which one, no one is really certain. It could be Justin Bieber, judging from the tattoos’ on Conner’s arms or from the jokes on Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. His boy band, Style Boyz could be parodying The Beastie Boys or even NSynch. His donkey hop is a variation of the famous horse dance by North Korean rapper, Psy. Whatever the parody is, the film quickly changes to another so no one is really sure. The film also moves along so fast that there is hardly time for the audience to realize what most of the words of the dialogue mean. Or to understand what the film intends to do- if there is an intention.

Real life boy bands break up and never get back together. The Style Boyz has Conner still working with his best friend and DJ, Owen (Jorma Taccone) while finally getting back with the estranged Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) at the end of the film
Where the film succeeds are the laughs and tie-ins the film brings with corporations like Aquaspin hosted by Maya Rudolph. But bits of the stories are also thrown into the film, as if at random. The story puts in bits like the need for the band for a corporate tie-in without any warning. Just as fast as this point is introduced, it is taken away. The same goes with Conner’s girlfriend, Ashley (Imogen Poots) who disappears just as fast as she appears.

The film is however, hilarious in parts. Samberg is a fast talker and a fast performer. His music videos (example the one on Bin Laden) are well orchestrated in the film. If only the film had a stronger narrative with all the points better assembled together.

A good number of music business and TV celebrities appear in the film as cameos. The list is endless and includes artists Snoopy Dog, Paul McCartney, TMZ, Ringo Starr, actors Martin Sheen, Joan Cusack (as his mother) and comics Bill Hader, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph to mention a few. This is one of the film’s delights that would more than cover the film’s flaws.
The film takes the one idea story nowhere. The story of the white-boy band star who grows up to to be a spoilt man that eventually grows up runs out of steam fast.

POPSTAR is a film for the young and for those who know the music business. A similar film that falls into this category was ENTOURAGE. It is not surprising therefore to see a number of the older audience walking out of the theatre during the promotional screening. Those in the know can relate to the film’s inside jokes, identify the pop-up cameos and enjoy the silly yet entertaining song and rap numbers.

POPSTAR NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING is conceived by Samberg’s long time partners Taccone and Schaffer – the film’s directors, who with him (they call themselves The Lonely Island) also wrote the script. The story of the Style Boyz must, for all that it’s worth, has some truth in it.

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