Generally I don’t find alleged laff riots starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd or former members of Saturday Night Live especially humorous. My little sister (eleven years my junior) tells me she sat through one of these movies, bewildered, while members of the predominantly youthful crowd howled with laughter at the dick and fart jokes, common to these movies. Don’t get me wrong. I thought this type of “humor” was hilarious during my prolonged adolescence.
Maybe it’s a generational thing.
Nevertheless, I was relieved to discover I found POPSTAR (Never Stop Never Stopping) both funny and clever.
Popstar is the second feature from twisted trio The Lonely Island (responsible for those “Digital Shorts” on, yes, SNL) The group comprises Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. Messrs. Schaffer and Taccone directed the film and all three co-wrote and co-produced with the help of modern-day comedy maestro Judd Apatow, whose patented blend of humor’n’heart is prominently on display.
There is enough lowbrow humor here for the multitude of fans who embrace it (it’s no accident that during my “research” I was directed to a website called “Tastefully Offensive”) but there is also some witty dialogue for non-fans of this kind of funny. There is also a truckload of savvy pop cultural references that even a grizzled former media type like me could figure out) and cameos from real life music biz types (50 Cent, Danger Mouse, Adam Levine, Simon Cowell and Ringo Starr, just to name a few) saluting the exploits of mythical group The Style Boyz.
The Style Boyz could be inspired by early Beastie Boys. The frontman, Conner4Real, played by Andy Samberg, bursts out of the group to become a successful solo act just as Justin Timberlake left ‘NSync to become a best-selling solo act.
Remember when U2’s Songs of Innocence appeared free of charge on millions of phones and iPods? Well, in this movie, Conner cuts a deal with fictional company Aquaspin. Everytime the door of a home appliance manufactured by the company opens, music from Conner4Real’s second CD starts playing. (The CD is released to mixed reviews, to put it charitably. Rolling Stone and Pitchfork hate it. The Onion gives it, uh, a rave review) Conner’s DJ, Owen. a former member of The Style Boyz (played by Jorma Taccone) wears a large piece of headgear just like Deadmaus. Conner’s song, “Equal Rights” bears a suspicious resemblance to Macklemore’s “Same Love” (although Conner goes to great pains in the lyrics to point out he’s not gay). Canadian popstar Justin Bieber is the target of several jibes. In fact, the whole movie is shot much in the style of self-indulgent pop documentaries like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.) And so on.
Naturally ,there are brief appearances by SNL alumni like Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader and Jimmy Fallon along with humorous perfs by Tim Meadows as Conner’s manager, Sarah Silverman as his publicist and Imogen Poots as starlet Ashley Wednesday (a play on ’60s starlet Tuesday Weld?)
As Mikey might say (a reference Popstar fans will probably not “get”) – “Lowbrow, yes, but I like it too.”