Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping — 5/10

POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (2016, Akiva Schaffer & Jorma Taccone)

A common complaint I seem to have about comedies is that they have good ideas or funny concepts, but the execution is lacking. For the first time I can remember in a while, the exact opposite is true with this movie. Mediocre or broad & obvious ideas, but with fantastic execution. The visual, editorial, and musical satire is pitched perfectly, using a lot of amusing music-doc clichés to razor-sharp effect. The problem is, they’re just in service of some ideas that aren’t very interesting.

You could make the case that Justin Bieber touring docs, Macklemore videos, and Grammy and VMA performances are already so ridiculous and self-parodying that making a movie satire is beating a dead horse. And that’s a solid case. But there’s still room for laughter here, such as the expertly crafted “Equal Rights” video, or the marriage proposal sequence that turns violent when wolves maul Seal. These guys know how to make a joke work on film.

It’s just that when padded out to 80+ minutes, they have to resort to thinly sketched narrative to keep the engine going, and everything starts to feel pretty blunt and shruggish. There’s a somewhat interesting subtext in the autobiographical nature of Lonely Island in the Style Boyz (Schaffer and Taccone play the less famous members, Samberg the breakout star), but it never threatens to feel real or revelatory. There’s hardly even a reson for this to be a movie at all. You’ll find yourself laughing occasionally, but then thinking “yeah that’s what’s funny about this specific thing, but overall I kinda got the joke already and it isn’t very clever.” For Andy Samberg comedy, I’ll take 7 DAYS IN HELL any day over this, so maybe Conner 4Real solo is better than they think.

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