Snarky headlines aside, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a movie that was created for the kinds of people who watched Spinal Tap over and over, love the idea of satire about pop culture, and critics. It stars The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg. It also features a huge number of cameos from celebrities, cutting to interesting perspectives on pop culture, and aping the tropes of the music documentary. It involves a lot of swearing, weird asides, and a story that you’ve seen before. I enjoyed it a bunch.
The film is made in the mocumentary mold that Spinal Tap is most associated with, and follows similar arcs. You have the mostly oblivious group facing a decline, and the way that they overcome that decline. If you read my Spectre review, you’d know that I think formula has a place in these kinds of movies. As a framework to hang jokes on, with three of the most marketable comedy stars who can draw from relationships across the industry to make jokes, the overblown pop obsessed world is a pretty deep mine. However, for every surface level joke that they go for, they also draw on the masterful lessons of Hot Rod, allowing their characters to make insane asides that don’t make sense in ‘reality’, but work perfectly for the movie.
Andy Samberg holds the center of the movie well, but it is important not to ignore the other creative partners in the Lonely Island, who do the hardest work in the movie. Schaffer spends a lot of the movie acting alone, creating a weird dystopic small farm, looking wistfully and angrily at his past. The challenge of that role and making some of the funniest moments about boiling resentment make him an MVP of the movie. Taccone is also spectacular in the role of the friend who has stuck through thick and thin with his friends ascent, trying to allow him to make good decisions. They do incredible work supporting the central pillar of Samberg’s completely oblivious “hero.”
The reviews of this movie and the focus of the story is going to be celebrity culture and Kardashianification of the world, but it is important to not lose sight of what they accomplished. The music, the style, the story, and the asides all work together. If you see it, make sure that you are ready for profound silliness, profanity, nudity, weird asides, and great performances from Taccone and Schaffer. If you aren’t up for silly jokes about TMZ and Seal, this might not be the movie for you.
Damn, I should have named my review site Snarky Headlines Aside. Don’t steal that.