Film Review: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a silly and stupid send up of rock documentaries in the best way possible, with the Lonely Island guys keeping things fresh throughout.

Following the breakup of his former band, The Style Boyz, Conner4Real anticipates the release of his upcoming second album and all of the fallout surrounding it and his public image. When things start falling apart for Conner, he desperately tries to hold on to his station in life, arrogantly pushing against everything that makes sense in his world.

Starring the Lonely Island trio of Andy Samberg (Conner4Real), Jorma Taccone (Owen) and Akiva Schaffer (Lawrence), the latter two are co-directors, these guys know each other so well and execute their specific brand of comedy. If you were never a big fan of their previous work on SNL, Hot Rod or MacGruber, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is not likely to change your mind, but if you are tuned into their wavelength you will for sure get a lot out of this. They continue to produce music that is pretty catchy, and often hilarious, perfectly poking fun at the current pop music landscape.

The trio keeps things fresh by treating every five minutes or so like a new skit, finding a different angle of humor to play with surrounding Conner4Real’s absurd persona. Conner4Real is an absurd character to start with, but the concert film genre itself provides plenty of room parody too. Musicians are a ripe group of personalities to poke fun at and while Samberg and crew certainly write some good jokes at their expense, part of the film’s real charm is getting many of musicians to come and participate in the humor. The interview elements of this faux documentary are littered with familiar faces and they all are happy to play ball, often at their own expense.

Not all of the bits work 100%, no comedy can pull that off, but the average is plenty high and if anything isn’t working for you, as mentioned above, the film moves on fairly quickly to its next premise. Bill Hader pops up a couple times, as does Justin TImberlake, and I wish we got more of both of those guys. Tim Meadows shows up and is great as always, getting to just be broad and silly as Conner4Real’s manager. Sarah Silverman makes the most out of a role that is mostly asking her to move the plot along, but I wish she got even more room to show off her sense of humor. The CMZ crew almost steals the movie, as Will Arnett, Mike Birbiglia, Eric André and Chelsea Peretti deliver such self-loathing hilarity that rings entirely true to the TMZ idiots they are mocking.

The Lonely Island trio are delivering familiar roles for themselves, but they are parts they are all quite good at. Schaffer is stretching the most, and it works, as he is the most camera shy of the three. As the reclusive genius behind The Style Boyz, Schaffer gets to play a quiet and odd duck in the country, interacting with nothing but the camera, this seems like a good fit for him. Straight faced and grumpy, Schaffer is good at delivering this one note. Taccone plays a simpletonesque yes man to Conner4Real, but he finds a nice layer in that performance as he meekly tries to bring The Style Boyz back together. He finds a nice arc in standing up for himself and really ends up being the glue that sticks all of these guys together. Samberg plays the lead, and is clearly the most seasoned actor of the bunch, not to take anything away from the other guys. Samberg plays Conner4Real perfectly, he’s not an idiot, he just makes bad decisions and can get jealous. The role could have really devolved into a hateful, mean spirited character, but there is a heart to Samberg, and everyone’s, performance that makes the film work so well. Sure, there are a bunch of dumb, crude, silly and over the top jokes made throughout Popstar, but The Lonely Island trio never forgets to ground the film around The Style Boyz friendship.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a fun and silly send up of music documentaries. The creative trio keeps the ball moving and never allow a gimmick to get stale. Every gag isn’t a home run, but the average is still pretty high and that is more than you can ask for in a comedy. The music is good, there are a lot of fun performances and they hit the exact one they were going for. Don’t miss it if you are a fan of The Lonely Island.

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