Gross-out comedy king Judd Apatow had a good, jokey parody of country music biopics a decade back in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” He lampooned the perils of rock celebrity in “Get Him to the Greek.” Neither was a bona fide classic like “Spinal Tap,” but they were legit fun.
Apatow’s back in the groove, producing “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” with “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, the film’s co-stars and creative team. It’s a high-budget slapfest that takes a spanking paddle to rap, overblown super-concerts and a slew of media annoyances from Justin Bieber to TMZ gossip news.
The style is free-form, easy-laugh stupidity. Samberg plays Conner Friel, aka Conner4Real, a newly minted music god who draws immense crowds on tour. His brand is — get this — F-bomb raps, and love songs where his girl asks Conner to invade her like the U.S. military invaded bin Laden. After releasing the worst album in history, he needs to rejoin the lifelong pals who were his first bandmates. If you can’t see where the story goes from here, visit your ophthalmologist.
It’s all right, I guess. It didn’t surprise me with goodness, it didn’t surprise me with badness, it was sporadically funny. The cast is full of mini-cameos from Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg and dozens more, with only Justin Timberlake hitting the perfect comic notes.
I imagine it will attract the college set in droves. For me it was like kale. Some people swear by it, and I can live fine without it. And my comedy standards really aren’t that demanding.
There are references here that may seem uproarious to viewers who recall how Bieber made a laughingstock of himself at the Anne Frank house, or Timberlake’s departure from N’ Sync, but the gags are thrown in a blur. The film is loud and raunchy, which is not an ideal form of humor unless you miss Andrew Dice Clay.
I’m not saying it’s never funny, but it works on a very inconsistent basis. The cheap-gag peak comes in an exposed penis joke. We don’t see the face of the body extra, but it’s widely suggested to be producer Judd Apatow’s appendage. In future productions, he should keep his blood back up in his brain.