By: The Cinephiliac (A Toast) –
At some time in an alternative reality, The Style Boyz existed. This pop sensation blew America away long before N’Sync or Justin Bieber did, at least that’s how Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping tells it. Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone, better known as The Lonely Island, double as the film’s creative team and the embodiment of The Style Boyz themselves. The group manages to feel like a real-life Beastie Boys hybrid, hip-pop trio thanks to The Lonely Island’s own peculiarly particular character build-up. Popstar focuses on the aftershocks, rise, and inclement trough experienced by The Style Boyz and their breakout star Connor (Samberg). All the drama is filmed by a crew meant to document the release of Connor’s highly anticipated 2nd album. Popstar in turn embodies all the pleasures and chaos Connor experiences while also showing how his rise to the top affects him on a psychological level.
Turtle neck, light beer, and a thin ass chain, and that’s it. Jabrone.
Full disclosure: I fervidly adore the Lonely Island. Once I came to terms with the fact that “Dick in a Box” and “I’m On a Boat” are fantastically constructed songs, I started rocking turtlenecks and chains and never looked back. This disclosure is to explain why a film as ridiculous and out there as Popstar gets a toast. There’s very little doubt that you won’t laugh while watching Popstar, even if it’s just one good belly laugh at one scene. Nevertheless, some viewers will be put off by the silly, childish humor that connects the bulk of the film, especially if Popstar is your first foray into a Lovely Island-produced project. Popstar is random, goofy, and just plain stupid, but this almost is its most alluring appeal and how it works. The humor is simply outrageous; there’s an off camera fight with a hive of bees, a penis that makes it appearance smudged up against a window, a holograph Adam Levine grinding on himself, a good old Buffalo Bill Silence of the Lambs moment. Popstar tows the line somewhere between inane absurdity and legit mockumentary.
Wait for it…
Aside from these off-beat, silly moments, Popstar unveils a meaningful story ripe with emotion. This isn’t your average rags to riches tale, nor is it a typical fall from grace. Popstar assesses our penchant for “celebritism” and the egos it bolsters, leading many to go to great lengths just to stay relevant. Connor isn’t just an idiot whose adorable looks centered him in the spotlight. It’s his upbringing that bears the burden for his insatiable need for love and acceptance in the favor of others.
His attempts to keep album sales up along with his aloof misconceptions of the world around him call to mind the careers of hundreds of other celebrities— some have fought shamelessly to stay relevant in a business that’s quick to forget while others surround themselves with yes men and illusions of grandeur. Connor’s emotional instability and lackluster coping skills get contrasted by the friendships he once had with Lawrence (Schaffer) and Owen (Taccone). We see the trio’s loving connection sown through seeds of cinematic flashbacks and mock interviews of the trio and those in the business. These moments parodied off of real life musical break-ups help create a well-rounded look into their friendship that makes their personal deterioration twice as meaningful.
I’m important because I bone.
Popstar could have benefited from paying closer attention to the other Style Boyz members for the sake of story clarity and humor, although it still excels despite it. Fans of Hot Rod or anything attached to The Lonely Island crew will be completely satisfied and laughing for days at Popstar. Novices to the group’s work should be warned of their style of humor, but shouldn’t take that as cause for alarm. In the most general sense of the word, Popstar is funny. You will laugh and if you allow the story to envelope you the way it wants to, you will feel the underlying emotional sincerity of it. However, Popstar is a product of its time, a very specific timeframe in a very specific generation which may be all the more reason some of you will hate this.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Sip: for every Connor catchphrase
Take a Sip: for Lawrence’s wood workings
Take a Sip: every time someone derails Connor from learning the truth
Do a Shot: for every mention of the Donkey Roll
Take a Sip: every time someone says “dick”