Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping review
A seal in the wolf house
Somewhere on the pop music spectrum between Justins Timberlake and Bieber sits Conner4real, a fictional superstar with an inflated ego and an overdose of self-esteem whose new “documentary” Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping hits cinemas this first weekend of June. Andy Samberg (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Saturday Night Live”) stars as Conner, a big deal in the entertainment industry ever since his former boy band, The Style Boyz, released a series of hits during his early years in showbiz. With a new album dropping and sales estimates looking grim to say the least, Conner must either fold up and throw in the towel or grow up and let his music evolve. While his situation sounds serious, it’s anything but. Samberg spends eighty minutes doling out ridiculous, hilarious nonsense as his oblivious, ignorant, yet obscenely wealthy character that mirrors another famous, fictional rock star from another comedy film.
Samberg collaborates again with his two boyhood friends/ comedy partners Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer who make up the “fake rap” act called The Lonely Island with the popular actor. The three got their big break on “Saturday Night Live” together with their digital shorts/ music videos and have expanded their brand ever since. Having directed studio motion pictures in the past, Schaffer (Hot Rod, The Watch) and Taccone (MacGruber) share directing duties as both also have substantial, meta roles within the movie as the other two members of The Style Boyz. In 2007, the trio wrote, directed, produced, and acted in their first film together, Hot Rod. Since then, they’ve also released four albums together, one of which is the soundtrack to Popstar released earlier this year.Many of The Lonely Island’s lyrics take on and mock the rap industry altogether, enthusiastically inverting virility, masculinity, wealth, and power in their songs. Never Stop Never Stopping becomes a live-action album as the character Conner represents everything this group ridicules with their music. The film's mockery hits maximum laughs when comedic actors Will Arnett, Chelsea Peretti, Eric André, and Mike Birbiglia cameo together, skewering TMZ.
In addition to what Conner represents, a specific, Canadian pop artist instantly comes to mind the moment one sees the trailer to the Lonely Island’s new film. The title Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping alone pokes fun at the 3D Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never with the new film referencing scenes from Bieber’s movie. For example, “footage” from Conner’s babyhood shows him drumming like Neil Peart. Conner also gets involved in a high-profile relationship with a fellow entertainer to unashamedly boost both careers, reminding viewers of the several celebrity relationships not only held by Bieber, but pop stars like the other Justin, as well. At least real-life pop moguls can say they never tried cross promotion with household appliances.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping allows the Lonely Island to provide a visual demonstration of their music beyond a three or four minute music video, even though the group manages to squeeze a few Conner4real videos into the film. Nonstop laughs and scathing celebrity stereotypes make it the best comedy to date of 2016. The endless cameos and tongue-in-cheek parody should excite fans of pop culture (unless one is a fan of Bieber). Despite more than a couple similarities to the plot of Get Him to the Greek, expect Popstar to take more than some of the box office away from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel this weekend.