So Dumb…It’s Smart: Our Review of ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 03, 2016
So Dumb…It’s Smart: Our Review of ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’

Yeah, building a movie around one joke is never really a great idea, EXCEPT when it is executed with immaculate precision.  Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is actually being done a disservice as it is being positioned as a Justin Bieber doc spoof, when in reality what it really does is take aim at an entire music industry that is more focused on fame than it is actual artistry and while I would never presume to think that anything could ever overtake This Is Spinal Tap as the premiere rockumentary spoof of all time, but I will say that Popstar is the closest that this generation will ever get.

Conner4Real (Andy Samberg) after breaking up with his popular hip-hop boy band group evolves into the biggest pop phenomenon the world has ever seen…that is until his second album drops and subsequently bombs.  As the entourages and hangers on fade away, can Connor rebound and still be the star that he thinks he is when his entire world is crumbling around him.

Essentially, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping manages to work because it viciously skewers an industry while still admitting its love for it at the exact same time.  No one is really safe, but no one is savaged either as Samberg and company milk the music documentary format for all it is worth.

Filled with enough cameos to sink a ship, this movie has just the right amount of credibility for the subject it is sending up and it walks that fine line between really really dumb, but also so on point that you have to marvel at its overall sharpness.  2/3rds of the Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) share the directorial duties while they all share writing credits and for the most part it works quite well.  They mine the joke of the vapid pop star pretty damn far, and while it occasionally sputters it never runs out of gas.  These guys know the format and the keep to it religiously, it’s why the damn thing works as well as it does so that even when something doesn’t land they know damn well to have another joke coming in hot right behind it.  Underneath all the dick jokes (and trust me there’s a bunch of them) there are some cutting jabs at the state of the music industry and general musicianship today.  It all makes for some brilliantly trashy fun and it has genuine genius in its flat out ridiculousness.

There is some earnest heart inside all of the satire and that all comes through in Andy Samberg’s performance as the charmingly dim witted Connor4Real.  There’s a reason why this guy won a Golden Globe for his TV show Brooklyn Nine Nine, because yeah he can do flat out goofy with the best of them but he also brings a certain degree of nuance to it all as he builds a character.  He’s obviously been working on this character for years in various iterations and it all comes to ahead as The Lonely Island guys do at least get their names into the conversation with the likes of Christopher Guest as some next level satirists.Popstar-Never-Stop-Never-Stopping-9-620x399

While I’ll admit that its predictable format takes away the chance for any surprises, it really isn’t supposed to as it’s a movie where we just need to enjoy the ride from beginning to end.  You can knit pick the flaws in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping but why would you want to because if anything it is a nice preview to the fact that for Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone the best may actually be yet to come.

  • Release Date: 6/3/2016
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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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