In the weeks leading up to the release of Popstar: Never Stop stopping, an Andy Samberg lead film that is a mocumentary about a fictional popstar, the early reviews seemed to be another slapstick, throwaway, comedy were surprisingly positive. Due to this barrage of positive feedback, I anxiously awaited to see the film, which is something I do not frequently do with comedies. Yet, this wave of anticipation began to falter when I stepped into the seemingly empty theater on opening night and was hit with a barrage of previews for other nonsense comedies that are slated to out this summer. Fear started to wash over me as I began to question if I let some marketing promos trick me into putting myself in a theater primed for a disastrous display of cinema. Needless to say, as the film opened I was extremely cautious as to what I would be in for. Fortunately for me, I did not have any more time to second guess my choice in seeing the film as the humor in the film kept me entertained through most of the film.
As mentioned, most of the comedies that are going to be released in the coming months are for lack of a better term, less than stellar, and the reason for this, is because their style of comedy really hinges on over the top antics that rely on the audience laughing at how fantastically crazy someone is. While this is a concept that has been in the comedy genre since its inception, what filmmakers fail to realize is that in order for this concept to make the audience laugh these crazy antics must be grounded in some realistic social apparatus. This is what the minds behind Popstar clearly understood, allowing the film to separate itself form the pack this summer and garner support from critics. By this, I mean that the film centered on poking fun at real issues and ideas that exist in the current entertainment industry. By exploring these themes, the film is seen by the audience as a critique of an industry and thus establishes a clear ground for the film to be based. This way, when a character in the film does something ridiculous there is gravity behind it and humor can be found. However, filmmakers must also be careful when making this type of film because the critique can come across as forced and unnatural making the audience feel as if they are attacking the music industry, which is a subject that a lot of the audience enjoys and would take offense to. In order to make sure this does not feel like what is going on, the story is framed as a mocumentary instead of a traditional story narrative structure. In doing so, it is communicated to the audience that what is being expressed in the film is not to be taken too seriously and more of just a social comment than critique. Not to mention, by having the film done in this style the filmmakers are able to load the film up with dozens of celebrity cameos from famous musicians and personalities giving off the impression that they are in on the joke and approve of it. While this concept of creating a realistic world for a comedy to live in sounds like something inconsequential, think back to a majority of the comedies that you enjoy that have stood the test of time and you will find that the reason they are still funny is not because of their over the top humor, but because of the subtly way in which they are able to comment on humorous parts of society.
When looking back on the film, I actually find it quite favorable, and really something that I did not expect myself to like or even watch for that matter. In fact, the only issue that really stuck with me while watching the film was about a fifteen-minute dead part in the film that stopped its momentum. Towards the latter half of the second act when the main character, Conner, is at his lowest point and trying to follow his road to redemption, the jokes that clouded the rest of the film and distracted the audience from the film’s thin plotline dissipate, allowing the audience to realize how lackluster it is. While one should not expect a comedy of this genre to have an elaborate story structure, the rest of the film does such a great job at keeping the audience distracted causing them to raise their expectations of what the film is. While this is neither a flaw of the audience or film itself it is something that a lot of good comedies end up struggling with because, once the film raises expectations and the audience expects something out of it, it is difficult to build towards an emotionally compelling climax and keep the audience laughing at the same time. More often than not, at this stage instead of awkwardly trying to combine both, the film will just take a stab at one. In this case, Popstar stops its barrage of jokes, which results in about a fifteen-minute period where the audience gets bored but the plot is able to progress enough for the jokes to start back up again. In the moment when watching the film it is a period that is difficult to sit through but, looking back on it later there really is no other way the film could have gone.
All in all, it is safe to say that for the first half of 2016 Popstar maybe my sleeper hit. Not only was it a film that I did not hear about until about two weeks ago, but it is also one that I would typically never even take the time to see. Popstar is able to correctly keep the audience laughing throughout most of the film and comment on the state of music superstars without being heavy handed which really is a feat in itself. Therefore, Popstar: Never Stop Stopping earns 3 out of 5 Reels from Celluloid Cinema.
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