Review by Lauryn Angel
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping could very easily have been a very bad movie – an SNL skit stretched out way too long. Luckily, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone deftly avoid this trap and provide an enjoyable – if not particularly memorable film. The Lonely Island crew thumb their noses at celebrity culture in general and the music industry in particular, and walks the fine line between outrageously funny and downright dumb without wobbling too far in either direction.
Popstar is a mockumentary following the recent career of Conner4real (Andy Samberg), former member of the boy band The Style Boys, which Conner started with his friends since junior high, Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) and Owen (Jorma Taccone). When Conner let fame go to his head, Lawrence left, breaking up The Style Boyz and making room for Conner’s solo career. Owen remains faithful to Conner, even though lately, it seems he’s only needed to press play on an iPod. Conner is surrounded by yes-men, leading him to an inflated sense of his talent and importance. He’s obnoxious and more than a little desperate for approval, a combination which results in songs like “Equal Rights,” in which Conner raps in support of the LGBTQ community, but undermines his purpose with the repeated refrain “I’m not gay!” Watching Conner’s career decline is both hilarious and a little heart-breaking, as Conner is simply too stupid to see just how bad his decisions are and too entitled to listen to the warnings of his manager Harry (Tim Meadows) or publicist Paula (Sarah Silverman).
Popstar’s storyline is predictable – but the story isn’t as important here as the spectacle. The film moves from swiftly from one gag to the next. The film moves from archival footage of the Style Boyz performing their classic “Donkey Roll,” to celebrity interviews (with some pretty fantastic cameos), to concert footage. And fans of the Lonely Island will not be disappointed by Conner’s singles, like “Finest Girl” and “Mona Lisa.” The parody of TMZ is perhaps my favorite bit of the film – I won’t go into detail, but I will say that Will Arnett nails it.
Is Popstar the next Spinal Tap? Certainly not, but it does a great job of tapping into the current pop zeitgeist.