Favorite

'Popstar': Idiocy done brilliantly 

click to enlarge 'POPSTAR': Andy Samberg plays "Connor4Real," who finds himself in a downward spiral of his own egomaniacal making.
  • 'POPSTAR': Andy Samberg plays "Connor4Real," who finds himself in a downward spiral of his own egomaniacal making.

"Popstar: Never Stop Not Stopping" flopped last weekend, earning about a tenth of what a quartet of Ninja Turtles hauled in, and that fact is enough to have you weeping for America. Its clunky trailers be damned, "Popstar" is, minute-for-minute, maybe the funniest movie of the year so far. The mock-rockumentary from the Lonely Island trio of "Saturday Night Live" infamy — Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer, who also directs — runs like a feature-length version of the "I'm On a Boat" music video. Is The Lonely Island a spoof group, in business to satirize the vapidity and vulgarity of party hip-hop? Or is it a highly skilled pop trio whose work skews ludicrous as they bang out catchy hooks? Non-English speakers would bop their heads along with, to pick but one example, "I Just Had Sex" (252 million YouTube views and counting) even as you do spit-takes at the filthy, ridiculous lyrics.

"Popstar" builds around a fictional trio, the Style Boyz, who are in effect a bizzaro Lonely Island imagined as the "world's biggest pop group." Imagine a mashup between NSYNC and the Beastie Boys lighting up charts in a dimension where "I'm So Humble" or "Hot New Pop Song" are embraced as unironic.

The story picks up after infighting has split the group: Samberg's oblivious egotist Connor has splintered off to a huge solo career as "Connor4Real" without realizing how much he relied on the beats by his DJ bandmate Owen (Taccone) and lyrics by Lawrence (Schaffer), who's so disgusted he leaves, fizzles in his own solo career ("Things In My Jeep" featuring Linkin Park didn't chart so well) and retires to Colorado to farm, bitterly.

Connor charges ahead with what's supposed to be his monster new album, but his glaring idiocy cripples it. For instance, he releases a tentpole single around advocacy for same-sex marriage punctuated with insistences that he's not himself gay, and inks an ill-fated distribution deal with an appliance manufacturer that pipes his songs out of microwaves and refrigerators nationwide. His publicist (Sarah Silverman) and manager (Tim Meadows) are helpless to intervene, and failure doesn't sit well with Connor. He's a sort of dunce hybrid of Justins Bieber and Timberlake, with a spritzing of Usher (all of whom appear in "Popstar"), and what follows through his tantrums and crashes is a tale of friendship, hubris, self-realization and, in a strange twist of earnestness, collaborative creativity.

But no one really cares about the character arcs. You're here for the jokes. And, boy, are there jokes. "Popstar" is embroidered as finely as you'd expect from a crew of comedians used to writing songs and music videos. Practically every shot includes a gag of some kind, every cameo (and there must be dozens) chosen for maximum effect. The songs, too, almost all land as absurdist riffs on the past decade or so of pop. It's easy to hear the influence of, say, Macklemore or Nicki Minaj strewn around, and in the climactic number, maybe a nod to Insane Clown Posse, even as Michael Bolton is singing along. It's that kind of jamboroo.

Obviously something went awry in the marketing of this flick, and understandably so. There's a fine line between so-stupid-it's-smart and so-stupid-it's-back-around-to-really-stupid. The genius of "Popstar" lies in its audacious weaponization of idiocy. It's not a shock that this movie was made, but clearly no one expected it to be made this well. See it while you can, while it's not even the flavor of the month.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

  • Fear and wonder

    'Arrival' makes room for 'linguistic relativity.'
    • Nov 16, 2016
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Belk bowling, b-ball

    • Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation