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MOVIES: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - Review

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After a series of hilarious music videos on Saturday Night Live, Andy Samberg and his pals from The Lonely Island bring their irreverent, foul-mouthed and undeniably catchy melodies to the big screen with Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. To say that this current-era music mockumentary was inspired by Christopher Guest's pioneering work on This is Spinal Tap would be misleading - there are so many similarities that Popstar almost feels like a studio-mandated reboot: "This is Spinal Tap for the social media generation!"

The film takes us behind the scenes with Conner4Real (Samberg), a pop music phenomenon who went from humble beginnings as one-third of the boy band group Style Boyz to the top of the charts with his first solo record. Conner's meteoric rise causes a rift with his former bandmate Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer), who disappears from public life to become a farmer, embittered over never being recognized for the role he played in Conner's newfound success. Meanwhile, Owen (Jorma Taccone) stays on as Conner's DJ, enjoying the trappings of fame but longing for the simpler days when his pal didn't live his life in the center of a media frenzy.

Conner's new record is expected to elevate him to the next stage of superstardom, but after being universally panned by critics - Rolling Stone rates it "one poop emoji out of 4 stars" - the pop idol partners up with an appliance company for an ill-advised marketing scheme that echoes the unfortunate collaboration between U2 and Apple. In fact, Popstar takes aim at a number of high-profile happenings from the pop music world, including a ridiculously lavish wedding proposal and a visit to the Anne Frank house, both of which are only slightly less preposterous than the real-life incidents being spoofed. Oh, and there's an ongoing gag with Will Arnett and a team of comedians standing in for Harvey Levin and his TMZ cohorts that is frighteningly accurate in its absurdity.

Samberg may be the star here, but he's surrounding by a monstrous supporting cast that includes Tim Meadows as Conner's longtime manager, Sarah Silverman as Conner's oft-exasperated publicist, and Chris Redd as up-and-coming rapper Hunter the Hungry. The film is also rife with cameos from some of the music industry's biggest names - including Mariah Carey, Usher, Simon Cowell and even Ringo Starr - all of whom speak of Conner4Real as if he's the world's most accomplished performer.

The Lonely Island has always served up some hilarious musical offerings, and while Popstar's song selection doesn't boast instant classics like I'm On a Boat or Dick in a Box, there are a handful of standout tracks that are rendered even more uproarious by their live performances as part of Conner's massive arena tour. Watching Samberg perform I'm So Humble while strutting around a stage that would make Justin Bieber envious is a sight to behold, and the film's version of Finest Girl nearly had me in tears.

If you're not already a fan of The Lonely Island and their particular brand of humor, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping will do very little to change your mind. It's profane, juvenile and feels more like a collection of sketches than a cohesive film - but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable, or the music any less memorable.

About the Author - Brent Hankins
Brent Hankins is a film critic and blogger with 5 years of experience. He is a charter member of the Phoenix Critics Circle, the founder of, and host of the Drinks and Discourse podcast.
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