By: Samar Khan
RZA. Usher. Nas. Justin Timberlake. Mariah Carey. Ringo Starr. Adam Levine. These are all some of the major music stars that show up in The Lonely Island & Judd Apatow’s newest comedy musical, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Combine the cameos of these musical talents with appearances from comedy stars such as Will Arnett and Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and a story anchored by Andy Samberg and you have a side-splitting delight of a film.
*BRIEF SPOILERS FOLLOW*
Popstar is a film that can be effectively summed up as follows: successful member of a junior boy band goes solo, experiences a rise and a fall and ultimately finds out that he is at his best when he is with his friends from said boy band. Andy Samberg plays Conner4Real/Conner Friel (get it?) and is the successful solo member of a group called The Style Boyz. His partners in the band are played by The Lonely Island duo of Jorma Taccone (in a great performance as loyal friend Owen) and Akiva Schaffer (playing the hilariously distraught Lawrence) and they eventually experience a split wherein Samberg’s character ignores Schaffer’s character’s importance. The film then spends the rest of the time throwing in a crazy amount of cameos (almost all of which were utterly hilarious) before the ultimate redemption arc at the end where all three reunite and form their super band. All in all, a simple story that is magnified by the comedic aspect of the dialogue and carried by the wonderful cameos.
Andy Samberg was tasked with being the film’s anchor and he continues to shine, with his role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine having allowed him to polish his comedic timing further. His humour is at times very crass (to be expected from a Judd Apatow film, to be fair) but the delivery and total package made the film’s humour a real delight. His obliviousness is a real treat (Youtube videos of his most private moment had the audience holding their sides) and combines with his over-the-top nature to essentially make his character a walking joke. Barely a scene went by where he didn’t have the audience laughing in some way, shape or form.
Taccone and Schaffer also doubled as the film’s directors, channeling their Saturday Night Live and Lonely Island talents and putting in on display for the whole world to see why they are so highly regarded. The camerawork wasn’t anything audiences have not seen before but the comedic timing and random interspersing of celebrity cameos to highlight the importance of a scene were very well done. The scenes that made up the sold-out auditoriums were very well done and the mishmash of massive crowds and Samberg on stage felt as genuine as watching a live performance. Fellow Film Lawyer scribe Muneeb Arshid enjoyed these scenes as well, attesting to the quality of the film.
Usher and Justin Timberlake stole the show as themselves and a creepy chef respectively, with Timberlake drawing the loudest ovation from the audience as well as pure glee for his scenes. Usher plays himself but with the added twist of being a die-hard fan of The Style Boyz and his constant fawning over the group really drove him how genuine Schaffer/Taccone and Co. made the band seem.
People that have watched the trailer for the film and seen THAT Seal scene, fret not, as the jokes in the film were plentiful and not all spoiled within said trailer. The cameos alone should be enough for most people, as DJ Khaled using his famous line and Michael Bolton(!) participating in the climactic song were additional highlights that I would be remiss not to mention.
So, a music-based comedy that stars Andy Samberg and the two famous Lonely Island fellows and is jam-packed with cameos from a who’s who of music and comedy stars is what Popstar can best be summed up as. There has been a real dearth of quality comedies recently, with the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! being perhaps the most recent great example in a sea of average to downright terrible films. For those seeking a new film to watch this weekend, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping comes highly recommended.
We here at the Film Lawyers are proud to grace Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping with a grade of B (7.5/10).