“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is a mockumentary following Conner4Real (Samberg), a Justin Bieber-esque popstar who must cling onto fame after his latest record tanks. Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Sarah Silverman and Tim Meadows also star as Schaffer and Taccone direct.
Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer make up The Lonely Island, the group you probably know from their SNL shorts “I’m on a Boat” and “Dick in a Box,” which won the trio an Emmy. Together they made the 2007 cult hit film “Hot Rod” (if you have never seen that film, do yourself a favor and find it), as well as made cameos together in films such as “Neighbors.” “Popstar” is incredibly dumb, but that’s always been Lonely Island’s thing, and it turns out being a hilarious, slightly brilliant, satirical look at the music industry and what fame does to young stars.
Andy Samberg has always been a mixed bag for me. I love him on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and in “Hot Rod,” but he was very hit-and-miss on SNL and wasn’t funny in “That’s My Boy” (but in his defense, who was?). Here, back with his boys, Samberg is mostly great as the egocentric Conner, playing a star whose newest album gets panned and he must hold onto the fame he has become so accustomed to. Samberg isn’t over-the-top and sometimes just lets his facial expressions do all the talking, and has great chemistry with every one of the actors (in pretty much just a revolving door of cameos).
Even though the fictional record gets bad reviews, the musical numbers in “Popstar” are fantastic, often catchy and hilarious at the same time. One song by Samberg about gay marriage (poking fun at Macklemore) had me in actual tears and trying to stop laughing so loud because I was afraid I was going to miss the lyrics and/or annoy the people around me. It could be a long shot, but if one of the film’s songs could get some award season love, it would be well warranted.
Most of the film’s big laughs (and when I say big, I mean absolutely side-splitting) come in the first act, and the second act is mostly deprived of anything besides a few chuckles here and there. The climax brings everything together and even if it doesn’t end on a killer punchline or the film’s best song, it still makes up for the slight lull in the middle.
Two random things of note:
1) Will Arnett portrays the head of a parody TMZ and it is simply amazing (thank God he got a redemption from his fellow newcomer this week, TMNT 2)
2) The film is shot and edited great; it looks very sleek and despite being just a brisk 86 minutes it never feels rushed
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” is the best comedy so far of 2016, on top of one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. I really did enjoy this movie and will for sure see it again, and I implore you to check it out, too. It’s everything a summer comedy is supposed to be.
Critics Rating: 8/10