Comedy is really hard to pull off. It takes a lot of time and effort; And if someone doesn’t think a comedy isn’t funny, It will be judged incredibly harshly no matter how hard someone worked on it. I write this as a person who both reviews and critiques films, while also enjoys making films a lot. I’m not saying that comedy shouldn’t be critiqued or to be given a handicap. Let’s not forget that unfunny comedy exist and are painful. But I mainly say this because I feel like comedies get strung out when they don’t appeal to all people. And Popstar may have been a recent victim of this trend.
Popstar follows the daily life of Superstar Conner4Real (Andy Sandberg) and his struggles as he tries to stay relevant after his newest solo album tanks. We follow Conner on tour, trying to keep tickets sales up, and we see his past as a member of a pop group, The Style Boyz, where he broke off and went solo from his friends Lawrence and Owen (Played by Sandberg’s Lonely Island team Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone respectively.)
The film is a send up of current celebrity culture and the music industry. The film is loaded to the hilt with cameos from real life popstars, rappers, music producers, and celebrities. All of which are pretty funny and deliver some really good digs at real life popstar customs or at themselves. All of which are mainly talking heads.
All of this is possible thanks to the networking team of The Lonely Island, seven years on SNL along with friends in the music industry, and Judd Apatow being king comedy producer. The film is packed with so many funny people. That there are actually several underutilized characters. Bill Hader as a roady comes to mind first, whose entire scene in the movie is basically shown in a trailer. I won’t reveal who else is in the film, but it shows you the problem with getting too many cameos.
The film itself though? I found it to be pretty funny. Conner4Real is Justin Timberlake if he had the personality of Justin Bieber. He’s wild, arrogant, dangerously stupid, but a natural star. Andy Sandberg’s history has given him plenty of practice at playing a ridiculous character like this. He absolutely nails it here, playing Conner just the right amount of stupid, but keeping him interesting to follow.
The supporting cast is also used pretty well. Everything with the other members of Lonely Island is really solid. The chemistry is there and they know how to play off one another. Tim Meadows and Sarah Silverman have pretty decent parts as Conners manager and PR Rep. They both make the most out of their parts. My personal favorite was someone I didn’t recognize, Chris Redd, playing a rapper who is brought onto Conners tour to help sell tickets. He has a lot of charisma, along with being a really good rapper himself. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.
Probably the best part of the film is the music. The Lonely Island is really skilled at writing funny songs that sound great. Many of which sound like they could be real billboard singles. “I’m So Humble” starts out the movie and is one of my personal favorites. The Lonely Island does all of the music here and brings on other musicians (Linken Park, Adam Levine, and Pink to name a few) to help, like any standard Lonely Island album. The soundtrack of the film is also being marketed as the next Lonely Island album.
Now, I want to talk about something I brought up earlier. This film as a whole is funny. It’s not perfect, but that’s normal for any comedy. Popstar was the best reviewed wide release film last weekend (76%). It was also the only original film released. It was put against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Me Before You, both of which got poor to middling reviews (36% and 56% respectively.) But if you look at those two films, they both made the most money last weekend at the box office, along with X-Men: Apocalypse (48%), Need I say more?
Popstar came in at #8. To make matters worst; It’s Cinemascore (a ratings system that determines how audiences respond to movies) was a B. That’s the rating Audiences gave Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and when movies like Ninja Turtles can get an A-, a B rating is pretty bad. What’s interesting here is that other original comedies this year like The Nice Guys and Keanu also got B’s. While I didn’t really care for Keanu, The Nice Guys is one of the best films to come out this year. Why do general audiences seem to avoid original films? And when they do see them, they dislike them.
The answer can possibly be they aren’t marketed properly, or dare I say it, people don’t want to see something a couple IQ points higher? Popstar isn’t a very hard film to follow, but what it’s making fun of and how it presents itself is fairly clever. Why it didn’t click with audiences will be a mystery for a while. Hopefully it will find an audience in the future on Blu-Ray.
After defending this movie, you’d probably expect me to absolutely love this movie. But the truth is, It’s not my favorite comedy this summer. But damn it, It’s a really cool movie that I did have a total blast in. I think if you want to have a fun time in a theater this summer that doesn’t involve empty explosions, this movie will do the job.