THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Popstar’ hits the right comedic notes

Published 11:26 pm Thursday, June 2, 2016

Comedian Andy Samberg’s latest movie, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” sets out to skewer boy-band-driven pop music in the same way that “This is Spinal Tap” took on rock and roll and “A Mighty Wind” poked fun at the folk music scene. I’m pleased to report that this latest entry into the subgenre mostly succeeds, giving us a very silly comedy that will delight general audiences and pop music connoisseurs as well.

Samberg plays Connor, the former front man of a wildly-popular boy band, Style Boyz. He left the group to embark on a solo career, but things start to go wrong when sales of his sophomore album don’t live up to expectations. The real problem is that Connor has been living in such an isolated bubble, surrounded by sycophantic managers and adoring preteen fans that he has no coping skills to deal with anything less than complete success.

Samberg has a long history of playing characters that have a good heart, but still engage in all manner of juvenile behavior. Once again, Conner is that white boy rapper who wants the world to think that he’s dangerous, but his goofy grin and prep school haircut peg him immediately as a triumph of music marketing for suburban preteens. If nothing else, parents should get a kick out of seeing somebody poke fun at the musical groups their children love with such serious intent.

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Credit Samberg and his Lonely Island co-creators, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, for taking us into this absurd world of popstar excess. The situations are so silly that it’s easy to understand why the characters are acting so foolishly. I wish there were a few less cameo appearances by the never-ending parade of rappers, music industry impresarios and comedian friends. Ok, we get it; Andy Samberg has a lot of famous friends. Too bad he didn’t really give them anything special to do in his movie.

That’s a shame because the film is overstuffed with parody songs, many of which sound just like something that might legitimately play on a top 40 radio station. That is, until you listen to the lyrics, which are simply absurd. These songs are the highlight of the movie for me, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see audiences going back to the film just to give the musical numbers a second listen.

The bottom line is that “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a very funny skewering of the music industry. It won’t measure up to “Spinal Tap” or “Mighty Wind” when it comes to comedic genius or cutting edge, but there is no denying that this is a very funny film filled with a lot of laughs, memorable characters and some pretty good music.

I don’t really consider myself to be a huge fan of Andy Samberg, but that will certainly change if he keeps making solid comedies like “Popstar.”

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at