“This one’s a mask. Still me.”
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a mockumentary detailing the life of outrageous pop icon “Connor4Real” (Andy Samberg) in similar fashion to This is Spinal Tap, walking us through all the outlandish ups and downs of being a successful musician, while offering some light satirical commentary on the music industry.
After the breakup up his popular boy band “The Style Boyz”, Connor4Real set’s out to make a name for himself as a solo artist. Letting the fame get to his head, he fills his social circles with yes men and refuses to listen to any criticism, which helps lead to his downward spiral after his sophomore album is critically panned upon release. Connor then tries to win back his audience with various methods, and fails spectacularly.
Honestly, your enjoyment of this film will solely rest on how you view The Lonely Island. Popstar continues to embrace the absurdist humor found in their previous film, Hot Rod. This film reminds me a lot of a feature-length version of a similar Samberg project, the HBO special 7 Days in Hell. The two films share a common sense of humor, and both offer the same satirical look at their respective industries they are parodying.
Luckily, I love this kind of humor, so Popstar really worked for me. I find myself near tears multiple times, as the film continued to become increasingly bizarre as it went on, acting as a perfect vehicle to utilize the talents of The Lonely Island.
There are a multitude of cameos in the film, and some work better than others. My personal favorite was Justin Timberlake acting as Connor’s chef, who keeps trying to demonstrate is singing talents to Connor before being shut down. Timberlake has a knack for comedic timing, and he brings his best in Popstar. He is absolutely hilarious in this role.
There are many other cameos from figures in the music industry, and most of them act as talking head versions of themselves, who offer their opinion on the fictional Connor. While often funny, at times they are a little distracting and don’t contribute much to the film as a whole. Although I do have to say, Seal’s role in the film (yes, they somehow got Seal) is ridiculous in the best way possible, and had me dying laughing.
Sarah Silverman has a small part in the film, as does Bill Hader and Will Arnett. They are all hilarious in the short amount of time they have in the film, but I felt they weren’t utilized to their fullest potential. If you’ve seen any of the trailers for the film, you’ve seen almost all Hader’s screen time. Out of these three, Arnett was my favorite, as he portrayed a TMZ type member of the paparazzi, and he suited the role so well.
Andy Samberg channeled his inner douche in his portrayal of Connor4Real, and I thought he did a great job. His Connor persona is so over the top and absurd, it’s Samberg’s performance that really sells it and helps lend some empathy to a character that could easily be unlikable.
The other two members of The Lonely Island have roles in the film as well, yet they are significantly smaller than Samberg’s. Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone play the other two members of The Style Boyz. After their break up, Schaffer’s character elects to become a farmer, and Taccone’s character stays on as Connor’s DJ, equipped with a giant helmet that humorously emits the tripod sound from War of the Worlds. They are both very funny characters, but again I wish we could have seen more of them.
Popstar is not a perfect comedy by any means. The film has a pretty weak story, and there is little flow from scene to scene. Although, that is just the nature of the beast when making an absurdist comedy film. There are multiple times where the film grinds to a halt when Connor performs one of his songs, and the film almost turns into a Lonely Island music video. They are funny at first, but they would go on for too long, and I found myself waiting for the film to get back to what it excelled at: weird, surrealist humor. Luckily, the film doesn’t over stay its welcome with its brisk run-time. It’s short and sweet.
Overall, if you’re looking for a comedy without much depth but is exceedingly hilarious, especially if you’re a fan of The Lonely Island, then you’ll definitely get some enjoyment out of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The film is almost a glossier version of Hot Rod, and as a big fan of that film, I was very pleased with what I watched. Your mileage may vary.