“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” Review: For 86 Minutes, It Doesn’t

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Popstars are just about the easiest target out there, so if a movie goes after them, they better go all in.

Luckily, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping does just that. This music industry parody (and the long-rumored Lonely Island film) is just under 90 minutes of aggressive insanity. Styled as a mockumentary, the film follows the life of former boy band member and international pop star Connor4Real (Andy Samberg) as he revels in his rise and fall of celebrity.

Andy Samberg is one of my favorite comedians. His absolute commitment towards aggressive absurdity is absolutely hysterical. However, while the best descriptor for Popstar is aggressive, that’s not necessarily because of Samberg. There is constantly so much going on in the background of the movie that it’s hard to stay focused on any note for too long. Because of the constraints of his character as well as the constant action surrounding him (including just about every musician and comedian and comedy musician out there), Andy Samberg can’t help been seem a little restrained here.

That said, if we have to lose Samberg at his prime for the sake of the movie at large, that’s probably the right call to make. The movie’s weakest moments are when things slow down – and luckily they don’t slow down much. So much is going on that it can’t help but be entertaining, if not for pure audio-visual stimulation.

As I always do, let me fan-boy for just a moment about Brandon Trost. The horror-turned-comedy cinematographer seems to improve just about every project he works on. Because his background is in genre filmmaking, he always seems to bring a little flare to any movie he photographs. For Popstar, he does a fantastic job of creating a documentary vibe that seems genuine. Coupled with some great editing (from what must have been a LOT of footage), the movie looks fantastic.

One question that presents itself through the movie is what is the standard for good in the film? Connor4Real has two albums. One that’s supposedly good, and one that’s supposedly bad. The bad songs aren’t played a lot, but Connor plays a lot of his ‘good’ songs, and they seem like Lonely Island songs taken to an extreme and fit to the character. If these songs were called his ‘bad’ songs, no one would bat an eye. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if everything in the film is parody, then what is actually parody? The movie has so much going on and I don’t think that it is actually making a coherent point.

That said, the narrative is tight, and while the movie lacks some stunts to elicit huge laughs, it settles for small, constant laughs. And while this means that the film isn’t enormously memorable, it is incredibly entertaining while it is happening. Nothing about it is inherently tame, but afterwards the movie might seem a little muted. The run-time is short and the plotline is even shorter. But it’s certainly worth a watch.

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