By Chris Campo
There is no doubt that 2016 is a crowded year for hard R comedy, The Nice Guys, Deadpool, Keanu and Neighbors 2 are films already out, and we still have Sausage Party, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates and others to look forward to. So where does Lonely Island's new feature film, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, place amongst these? Well, I think it can be be perfectly explained with the lyric, "It's not a competition, but I'm winning," from the film's opening song, hilariously titled "I'm So Humble".
The Lonely Island's latest film is a mockumentary following fictional pop rapper, Conner4Real (Andy Samberg). After starting from humble beginnings as a member of the world famous boy band The Style Boys, Conner realises he is the most talented one in the band and sets off to become a solo artist, resulting in him becoming critically praised and one of the most beloved musicians of all time. The film picks up right as Conner's new album is dropping. After it receives negative reviews, Conner has to face the issues of falling from grace, losing friends and the media thinking he does not have a penis.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is the funniest comedy I have seen all year, bar none. It's fast, it's creative, it pushes boundaries and it has maybe the best original soundtrack to a movie I have ever seen. The film is brought to us by musical comedy geniuses The Lonely Island, and I have been a fan of their's since I heard "I'm on a Boat" for the very first time. They have such a unique and refreshing sense of humor, and they bring that sense of humor to the big screen with smashing success. There's so many absurd gags in this film, I'm shocked it was only 86 minutes. The film (almost) wastes no screen time. And Andy Samberg is a clear contender for comedy performance of the year.
I have never laughed so hard in a comedy than when I was laughing at this film's soundtrack. Wow. The Lonely Island has blessed our ears with some of their finest work for this film. I'm not kidding when I say the second the credits started to roll, I instantly bought the soundtrack. Highlights include a absolutely vicious attack on Macklemore with "Equal Rights" and an absolutely absurd song titled "Turn Up the Beef," featuring an odd celebrity cameo I will not spoil. Speaking of cameos I won't spoil... there are too many to count and each one is funnier than the last. There's a point in this film towards the end that reveals a celebrity making a similar documentary to Conner, I think I might have lost my voice laughing at it. Everyone and their mother makes an appearance in this film and it works oh so incredibly well.
With everything shoved into this short run time, some things do get lost in the crowd. For example, there are countless characters in this film that are all hilarious and absurdly entertaining that are only in it for one scene. Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, Will Arnett, Bill Hader and so many more amazing characters are in the film for two or less scenes! Bill Hader has one of the funniest bits in the movie but it's the only scene he's in! And Will Forte is in this film for literally four or so seconds... I'm not kidding. It's not a cameo either, it's a character in this film with less than five seconds of screen time. I guess what I'm trying to say is I want more! Luckily, Tim Meadow's character has a big, and funny part in the movie, and the other two members of Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (who both also direct) have big and hilarious roles as well.
The film has a very loose structure, but I feel that was a good thing. This film has a big gag, than a small character moment, than a music video or song performance. It goes along like that for about two thirds of the film and it works. However, the third act is a bit of a drag and takes a while to get to where it wants to go. I was never bored or not laughing, but I was thinking to myself "Come on... I just want to get to that finale that I know will deliver." The finale is predictable as hell, once you know where they are heading with the plot, you can guess the ending of this film, nevertheless, the final song/performance of this film is one of the highest high notes of the film. It was big, hilarious and satisfying. You're not really going to this film for the plot, but it's nice to know they gave us something that, for the most part, works.
With the songs, the characters and the outrageous cameos, The Lonely Island's new satire gave me the most laughs in a film so far this year. Trust me when I say you will want to buy the soundtrack as soon as you leave the theater, and will have the songs stuck in your head all damn day. Now give me a sequel so I can get more time with some of the hilarious characters that are barely in the film. Screw You, Mona Lisa.